Does Dark Chocolate have Health Benefits    

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The Feel-Good Factor. The health benefits of chocolate include a feel good factor:  Chocolate contains small amounts of a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mild mood elevator. It’s the same chemical that our brain produces when we feel happy or in love. The mild rush we get from this substance may be why some people say they’re addicted to chocolate.   Most chocolate consumed today is milk chocolate, which is high in saturated fat, sugar, and calories none of which qualify as heart-healthy so eat in moderation.  

Does dark chocolate have health benefits?  A single bar of dark Chocolate contains more than twice as many antioxidants as a bar of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has fewer calories than milk chocolate.
Milk chocolate is much higher in bad saturated fats and calories simply because it contains milk. Also, it contains fewer cocoa solids per ounce (and thus fewer antioxidants). It takes four cacao seeds to make one ounce of milk chocolate and 12 seeds to make one ounce of dark chocolate. Although milk chocolate does contain more calcium.

Good cholesterol. Chocolate and cocoa butter contain two main saturated fats (palmitic and stearic acids) and one mono-unsaturated fat (oleic acid). Unlike other saturated fats, stearic acid is a neutral fat and does not appear to raise bad cholesterol (LDL). Oleic acid is the same type of fat in olive oil and may actually raise good cholesterol levels (HDL).  So, Does dark chocolate have health benefits?  Yes!  Chocolate IS good for you!  The health benefits of chocolate are many.

Flavonoids, antioxidants. Chocolate is chock-full of flavonoids—naturally-occurring compounds found in the cacao plant, as well as in red wine, tea, fruits, and vegetables.
Flavonoids may have potentially beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. They may also act as antioxidants, which are believed to prevent or delay certain damage to the body’s cells and tissues.

The mineral and nutritional content of dark chocolate clearly answers the question "Does dark chocolate have health benefits? Cocoa and chocolate provide a treasury of minerals. Often working in conjunction with vitamins, these are also indispensable for normal physical function. The most significant of the minerals are:

 Calcium: 3 - 40%   Mostly found in milk and white chocolate. Needed for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth.
Together with vitamin A, aids coagulation of blood in wounds. Plays a role in muscle function.

Magnesium: 6 - 60%   The greatest concentrations are found in dark chocolate. Helps maintain a strong skeletal system.
primarily active in the promotion of memory and brain function and in preventing depression.

Copper: 0 - 60%   Mostly found in dark chocolate and, to a lesser extent, in milk chocolate. Probably has a role in countering cardiovascular disease.

Iron: 2 - 35%   Mostly found in dark chocolate. Active in the transport of oxygen to all body tissues.

Phosphorus: 25 - 35%  Only in milk and dark chocolate. Involved in the maintenance of a strong skeletal system. Has a role in the utilization of energy arising from food.

Zinc: 7 - 17%   The highest concentrations are found in dark chocolate. Important in the take-up of nutritional elements from
macro-nutrients. Involved in cell growth and the repair of tissue in the human body.

Manganese: 0 - 100%   The highest concentrations are found in dark chocolate and, to a lesser extent, in milk chocolate. Aids the functioning of the nervous system. 

So the news is good!  And the answer to our question  Does dark chocolate have health benefits? is a resounding YES! You may continue eating  it without feelings of guilt!

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