Cocoa Science Overview – Proving Chocolate Is Truly Healthy?

Origins of Chocolate

Chocolate is a result of roasting, grounding, fermenting, and flavoring Theobroma cacao seeds. A little known fact is that Theobrama cacao actually means “cacao, food of the gods”. And recent science is proving that statement to be true, as the once widely held scientific belief that chocolate is bad for you is being phased out of modern science.

Anyways, back to history. Chocolate was introduced to the civilized world through the adventures of Christopher Columbus. During one such trek in 1502, he went to the New World (North, Central, and South America) and discovered cocoa beans. He took some of these beans and brought them to Spain. 19 years later, the Spanish took over the Aztecs and actual chocolate was brought to the civilized world (which, at that time, was Europe). It was mainly a luxurious beverage for the rich and privileged members of society.

Fast forward 372 years and a man named Milton Hershey develops methods to mass produce chocolate and turn it into a sugary snack for everyone, regardless of wealth class. The name Hershey may ring a bell since one of the biggest chocolate making companies bears his namesake.

Quick Facts About Chocolate

Your typical cheap chocolate bar isn’t the healthiest choice. Instead, find chocolate with high cocoa content. It may have a more bitter taste than the usual chocolate bar, but it’s much healthier for you.

You can actually greatly reduce your blood pressure levels by eating chocolate that has a high concentration of flavanols on a regular basis. Cocoa is one of the biggest sources of flavanols in chocolate, so this fact goes hand-in-hand with the one above.

If you spend four weeks eating two chocolate bars every single day of those weeks, you will see a decrease in the amount of low-density lipoproteins in your body. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are often referred to as “bad cholesterol” and can lead to heart problems.

Did you know that more Nobel Prize winners have come from countries that eat more chocolate? Legitimate statistics actually show this. Is it just a case of “correlation, not causation”? It may seem that way, but scientific studies have actually shown that chocolate boosts your ability to learn and understand things.

Dark chocolate has a high amount of iron and is one of the healthiest forms of chocolate on the market.

Chocolate is incredibly popular worldwide – it transcends the many differences between cultures and lifestyles. Did you know that West Africa is the world’s largest producer of chocolate? It’s weird to think about that, since chocolate came from the Americas, but it’s true. Up to 70 percent of the world’s cocoa supply is made in West Africa.

The Science

Various scientific studies back up the notion that cocoa lowers the blood pressure of those that consume it. One such study found that consuming cocoa products can also reduce cardiovascular mortality. The best part is that the effects of cocoa on cardiovascular did not change at all, regardless of how physically fit a person is. The effect remains the same.

Additionally, since cocoa contains high amounts of flavanols, high consumption of cocoa leads to a widening of blood vessels. This is how cocoa is able to reduce your blood pressure levels. However, only chocolate with high amounts of cocoa can provide these benefits, as chocolates low in cocoa also have a much lower amount of flavanols (obviously).

An analysis of 20 studies pertaining to the effects of flavanols on blood pressure revealed the existence of “a statistically significant blood pressure reducing effect of flavanol rich cocoa products compared with control in short term trials of 2-18 weeks duration.”

An extensive four-week scientific study found that eating chocolate bars with high amounts of flavanols on a regular basis have other benefits as well. These benefits include a reduction in both the amount of serum in your body as well as lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).

As stated earlier, reducing your LDL levels can also reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Yes, contrary to past beliefs, chocolate can actually be good for your heart, if you eat the right kinds.

Many scientific trials have proven the beneficial effects of flavonoids as it pertains to lowering the odds of developing dementia. In addition to that, flavonoids have proved beneficial in boosting the ability to learn and comprehend things as well. Guess what? Flavanols are a type of flavonoid and cocoa is one of the biggest sources of flavanols.

Remember when I said that more Nobel Prize winners come from countries who consume more chocolate? A study was actually done to test this and found that consuming 400 more grams of cocoa per capita annually would produce one more Nobel Prize winner from that country. Now obviously, there are other factors in place that may skew these findings, but it’s an interesting find nonetheless.

Another interesting find made by a completely different study relates to the effect that high chocolate consumption has on one’s body mass index. Amazingly enough, the study found that frequent consumption of chocolate actually results in a lower body mass index. Wait, eating a bunch of chocolate doesn’t make us fatter? Whoa! Chocolate is high in calories, but the chemical makeup of chocolate disables those excess calories from having a negative effect on our weight.

In fact, the people in the study who didn’t consume chocolate frequently had a higher BMI than those who frequently consumed it. This study completely shatters those widely held beliefs of the past that said that chocolate made you fat. Other studies have also been done to substantiate these findings – no discrepancies here. These findings prove that there is more to controlling your weight than just counting calories and staying away from foods high in calories. In fact, it has more to do with what is inside those foods that you eat.

The Chocolate Health Science Verdict

Chocolate is not bad for you. It’s the conclusion that people all around the world previously could have only dreamed of hearing. But science has proven it to be true. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should go and pig out on chocolate. Ensure that you aren’t eating cheaply made chocolate. Make sure it is rich in cocoa so that you actually receive the benefits mentioned in this article.

The best part of this is that you don’t even have to limit chocolate consumption to once a week. Nope, you can eat cocoa products multiple times during the week and it’s actually recommended that you do so to receive the maximum effects of those benefits. So, chocolate has been proven to make us smarter, skinnier, and less at risk for nasty heart and cardiovascular illnesses.

It really is the food of the gods after all…

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