It's the best medical news: chocolate is good for us!

Studies have found that chocolate (especially dark chocolate) 

  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces platelet activation
  • relaxes blood vessels and promotes blood flow
  • balances certain cardiovascular hormones
  • promotes alertness
  • lessens pain
  • promotes well-being
  • acts as an antioxidant and absorbs free radicals
  • promotes higher levels of good HDL cholesterol and lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol

And best of all: Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found that those who eat chocolate several times each month live almost a year longer than those who eat too much or those who steer clear of junk altogether.

We tend to forget that chocolate is derived from cocoa beans, which are the fruits of the cacao tree. And fruits are a rich source of beneficial substances. Flavonoids are one of the special ingredients that make chocolate so special. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods. Specifically flavonoids have been found to prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, and make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. Cocoa beans contain large quantities of flavonoids as do red wine, cranberries, blueberries, green tea, apples, and many other fruits and vegetables. Generally dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate.

Phenylethylamine is another good substance found in chocolate, though in small quantities. It is related to amphetamines and stimulates the brain by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters that increase our ability to pay attention and stay alert. Studies recently indicated that chocolate releases the "happy" chemical serotonin in the brain. Scientists have also been able to isolate another substance called anandamide, from the Sanskrit word ananda which means peaceful bliss. This substance, naturally produced in the brain, is believed to bind to the same receptor sites in the brain as cannabinoids, (yes, the same chemicals in marijuana), and help produce a feeling of euphoria.Researchers also found that chocolate thins the blood, much like aspirin does. These researchers at UC Davis believe that consumption of cocoa may be associated with improved cardiovascular health.

When one talks about the health benefits of chocolate, reference is made primarily to dark chocolate. Fat and sugar are the two ingredients in some chocolates that negatively impact our health, and milk chocolate has added butterfat which contains cholesterol. Cocoa butter on the other hand is a vegetable fat and has no cholesterol. Milk chocolate also has fewer antioxidanats than dark chocolate.

Skeptical? Just Google chocolate and health benefits on the internet and see how many thousands of research papers and articles there are! Chocolate, regularly consumed, in moderation, is enjoyable and beneficial.

Do I eat chocolate every day? Absolutely! The moments I eat chocolate, in moderation , are some of the best moments of each day, that I savor.

Yours, in mind, body, chocolate every day