Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate as its own Food Group?

Chocolate can be used in so many great dishes and has so many healthful benefits! Whether you choose a rich dark chocolate or a creamy sweet milk chocolate there are nutritional benefits. Below is the top 10 reasons to have chocolate in your daily diet.

1. High in Antioxidants - Cocoa contains flavanols, a type of flavanoid that is only found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavanoids are naturally-occurring compounds that occur in plant foods that act as antioxidants and help counteract free radicals in the body.

2. Blood Pressure Benefits - Dark chocolate has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure.

3. Lower LDL Cholesterol - Eating dark chocolate on a regular basis has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 10 percent.

4. Natural Anti-Depressant - Chocolate contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Chocolate also stimulates endorphin production, which creates feelings of happiness and pleasure. In fact, one study found that melting chocolate in the mouth produced feelings of pleasure longer than passionate kissing. This may explain why many people naturally reach for chocolate when they're depressed.

5. Cancer Fighter
Several studies have found chocolate to be one of the best cancer-fighting foods along with foods like red wine, blueberries, garlic, and tea. Two ways that chocolate works as a cancer fighter is by inhibiting cell division and reducing inflammation, though research is ongoing and will probably find additional ways in which chocolate fights cancer.

6. Prevents Tooth Decay - Research has found that the theobromine in chocolate prevents tooth decay by eliminating streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the oral cavity that contributes to tooth decay.

7. Longer Life and Less Disease - One Dutch study followed 200 men over 20 years and found that those who consumed large amounts of chocolate, both milk chocolate and dark, lived longer and had lower overall disease rates than men who ate little or no chocolate.

To further strengthen the case for dark chocolate as a life extender, the world's longest-lived person, Jeanne Louise Calment, lived to the age of 122 and many ascribed her longevity in part to her consumption of 2.5 pounds of dark chocolate a week.

8. High in Magnesium - Cacao is higher in magnesium than any other plant. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps in the regulation of the digestive, neurological, and cardiovascular systems. Since many people are magnesium deficient, adding magnesium-rich dark chocolate to the diet can improve overall health.

9. Artery Cleanup - Studies have shown that the antioxidants in cacao work like brooms in sweeping plaque out of the arteries.

10. Brain Health - Many studies have shown that dark chocolate is good for the brain. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that it can protect the brain after a stroke by shielding the nerve cells from further damage. Dark chocolate has also been found to improve memory.

To help you with your chocolate intake if you let Indiana Family of Farmers know your favorite use for chocolate ONE lucky winner will receive a luscious Chocolate Gift package, just for letting us know how you cook with chocolate and reap the many healthy benefits from a great tasting “food group”.

Enter on the widget below. Email/Feed Subscribers will need to visit the blog to view 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


ShineyAim said...

I knew there was a reason I loved chocolate! :) The kids love hot chocolate, I use it when baking my cookies too and can't forget fondue! Yummy!

Barbara said...

Thanks for the info, like I really need an excuse for chocolate :-) But it does help when I tell others why they should eat chocolate.

cheeseandicecream said...

I use chocolate/peanut butter chips and mix them with roasted peanuts for a quick snack. But my main use is to make Homemade White Chocolate Icecream!

Dustin Barnes said...

Hershey's cocoa for homemade chocolate cakes!!

Elizabeth said...

I use it as often as I can ... for "health" reasons, of course! Chocolate chips (dark and semi-sweet) find their way into my banana bread and in place of raisins in my oatmeal cookies. They also end up in our pancakes. We prefer using cocoa for homemade hot chocolate instead of the store-bought mixes. There really aren't many days where I don't have even a little bit of chocolate!

Anonymous said...

I love chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Lana said...

As if I needed an excuse to eat more chocolate! YUM!

Heather Perkins said...

I just love Chocolate. Thanks for doing this giveaway.

Heidi said...

buckeyes! Oh I am salivating already :)