(NaturalNews) Chocolate has been a favorite food of people since it was first discovered. A joke among chocolate lovers is that it is an essential nutrient. But aside from a velvety texture and indescribable taste, is chocolate good for you? Research has shown that raw, dark cocoa is. Chocolate in assorted candies or bars has been processed. It has been fermented and sweetened with unhealthy sugars. It has preservatives and other added chemicals. It isn`t good for you at all, unlike raw, dark, healthy chocolate.
Unlike money, chocolate really does grow on trees. Raw cocoa powder produced directly from the fruit of the cacao tree is a pure substance. It contains no additives and is high in antioxidants. A Cornell University study cites findings that it has two times the antioxidants of red wine. Raw chocolate is high in tryptophan. The human body uses tryptophan to help manufacture serotonin, a biogenic amine or neurotransmitter that prevents depression, so if you`ve heard that chocolate is an anti-depressant, there is some truth to that.
There seems to be a positive link between raw chocolate and cardiovascular health. Early findings demonstrate that risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks is lessened in those people who regularly eat raw chocolate. One of the minerals needed for good heart function is magnesium (Mg). It is needed only in trace amounts, but in the majority of heart attack sufferers, the body`s Mg content is subnormal. Raw chocolate is an excellent source of Mg.
Raw chocolate contains oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fat that early research findings show helps raise the good cholesterol or HDL.
Healthy, raw, dark chocolate is extremely bitter. In order to make it palatable, equal parts of raw cocoa powder, raw honey and raw cocoa butter should be mixed together. Kept in the refrigerator, this makes a healthy sweet chocolate treat. Hot cocoa can be made with a healthy milk such as hemp or raw sheep, raw cocoa powder and raw honey. Some people seem to enjoy raw chocolate without anything added whatsoever. Apparently, this is an acquired taste.
Just how healthy is raw chocolate? A study done in 2005 reported the following results:
(1) Those study patients who ate 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks and a day experienced a drop in LDL or bad cholesterol.
(2) The investigators identified a lowering of blood pressure, both top and bottom numbers.
(3) Chocolate has been found to make cells more sensitive to insulin. When cells become insensitive to insulin, hypoglycemia and diabetes can develop. Therefore, chocolate seems to offer some protection against these diseases.
Other studies have shown that dairy products interfere with the antioxidant absorption of healthy chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate, if it is sweetened with a healthy sugar such as raw honey or xylitol, is the healthy alternative to the milk chocolate bars. White chocolate has none of the healthy chocolate in it; it`s made from cocoa butter.
Journal of Hypertension 2005, August. 23(8): 1453-1459.
Cornell University Department of Food and Nutrition, 2003.