Could the obesity epidemic actually be the result of a chocolate deficiency?
Researchers at the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego are suggesting that adults who eat chocolate more days of the week are actually thinner than those who eat it less often. Their findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on March 26.
What’s really interesting, encouraging and worth celebrating is the fact that the chocolate eaters took in more calories and didn’t exercise any more than those eating less chocolate. News doesn’t get any better than that.
Here are the top 7 reasons to go ahead and indulge in that chocolate treat:
1. Weight control. Keep in mind the claim of Katherine Hepburn, who attributed her svelte figure to “a lifetime of eating chocolate.”
2. Slow the aging process. Everyone knows it’s important to eat your fruits and vegetables but most people forget that chocolate is made from plants. Like many fruits and vegetables, chocolate is high in antioxidants, which protect our cells from free radical damage that can age us prematurely.
3. Reduce stress levels. According to one study, there is strong evidence that consuming 40 grams or 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines, the fight-or-flight hormones.
4. Lower blood pressure. A study of almost 20,000 Germans over 10 years found that those who ate the most chocolate (about 7.5 grams a day) had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least chocolate (1.7 gram a day). Other studies have shown that eating as little as three and a half ounces of dark chocolate lowers blood pressure almost as effectively as medications.
5. Reduce stroke damage. In one chocolate study, researchers found that mice fed a single dose of epicatechin (a compound found naturally in dark chocolate) 90 minutes before suffering an ischemic stroke suffered significantly less brain damage. Also, epicatechin taken after the stroke, limited further damage.
6. Reduce heart disease risk. Eating chocolate is thought to benefit our hearts due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. An analysis of seven studies with over 100,000 participants found that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels of chocolate consumption.
7. Relieve headaches. Headaches and even migraines can be traced back to a magnesium deficiency and over 70% of Americans may be deficient. The good news is that chocolate has some of the highest magnesium levels of any foods.
Remember that the best chocolate with the greatest health benefits is dark chocolate. So look for at least 70% cacao on the label and enjoy it guilt-free.