Health benefits of eating chocolate

Last weekend, I had a terrible time deciding what to write about. Not because I had no ideas, but because I had too many.
My main job during the past few weeks has been going through all the folders in my file drawers–folders I’ve accumulated during 60 years of writing.
One by one, I’m looking at each, tossing some and saving many. Folders that have only one or two pages, I scan into my computer and toss the hard copy.
My goal is to consolidate five four-drawer files into three, without losing any important information.
Most interesting are the folders with ideas for columns.
I considered writing about stress because that folder had almost an inch of input. The same was true with happiness, brain health, and longevity.
But I also was intrigued by many thin folders, such as “Things I’ve Learned” and “The Story of Ivory Soap.”
Finally, I decided to write about one of my favourite topics: “The Benefits of Dark Chocolate.”
Popular alternative doctor Stephen Sinatra says, “If you see a doctor sneak half a bar of chocolate instead of taking an aspirin, here’s why–researchers have discovered that chocolate has more benefits than disadvantages.”
But Sinatra cautions “not all chocolate is created equal.” It should be dark chocolate, with a 70 percent cocoa content.
And be sure to read the ingredients, making sure your bar has no harmful high fructose corn syrup.
According to researchers, dark chocolate seems to be good for “whatever ails you”–from preventing tooth decay to promoting healthy longevity.
By now, almost everyone knows that dark chocolate is healthy for the heart. But did you also know it can be part of your anti-cancer diet?
Yes, researchers now say it may play a role in cancer prevention, along with blueberries, garlic, tea, and red wine.
For the heart, dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and sweep plaque from your arteries. And it is high in magnesium, a very heart-healthy mineral.
Dark chocolate is not only good for your body; it is good for your brain.
Dr. Jeff Victoroff, author of “Saving Your Brain,” says chocolate will help keep you alert and more able to absorb new information. And it also can improve your memory.
But the most amazing benefit of all is that dark chocolate may be good for our teeth!
The theobromine in chocolate can prevent tooth decay by reducing the ability of oral bacteria to stick to our teeth.
But there is a catch–sugar is bad for our teeth. So make sure that your chocolate is “dark.”
Studies also have shown that eating dark chocolate is correlated to a longer and healthier life.
A Harvard study of the Kuna tribe in Panama, which consumed “a lot of raw cacao daily,” found this tribe had less disease and lived longer than neighbouring ones.
Even a little chocolate can help. Another Harvard study reported that men who ate just “a few pieces of chocolate monthly” lived one year longer than those who ate none.
So enjoy your chocolate. It tastes good! And it has a mild euphoric effect when you feel down.
But always remember, moderation is the key.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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