Friday, January 31, 2014

Make Valentine’s Day Healthier: Give Dark Chocolate

Contact: Dr. Pam Duitsman, nutrition and health specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Studies continue to show the remarkable health benefits of dark chocolate according to Dr. Pam Duitsman, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Made from cocoa, this treat is loaded with health-promoting compounds that function as powerful antioxidants.  In fact, dark chocolate has been shown to contain more antioxidant activity than several well-known super fruits like blueberries and Acai berries,” said Duitsman.

Studies show that dark chocolate may improve blood flow, improve insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, raise “good” HDL cholesterol, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and protect LDL from unhealthy oxidation.

“Additional observational studies have shown dark chocolate consumption is associated with an overall lower risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Duitsman.

In addition to blood sugar and cardio-vascular benefits, human studies indicate the consumption of dark chocolate benefits human skin.  For instance, cocoa consumers were shown to have a decrease in skin roughness and scaling, improved dermal blood circulation, and better “cosmetic” skin surface and hydration.

The flavonoid compounds that are high in cocoa and dark chocolate have also been associated with protection of brain function.  Specifically, the compounds appear to increase blood flow to gray matter, improve cognitive function, and help maintain cognitive health.  Other benefits include improvements to our mood, as brain serotonin and endorphin levels are boosted.

“Chocolate is rich in compounds called flavonoids which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-clotting properties,” said Duitsman. “The more cocoa flavonoids in the chocolate, the better it is for your health. Just be warned, the more cocoa flavonoids in the chocolate, the more bitter your bite will be.”

The fact that dark chocolate (with 70% or higher cocoa content) can provide significant health benefits is a great Valentine’s Day reminder.

“Dark chocolate also contains sugar and fat, so it is best consumed in moderation.    An ounce a few times a week can be consumed without guilt.  Take your time and savor the flavor and the benefits to your health,” said Duitsman.

For more information on nutrition contact one of the following nutrition specialists: Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545. Information is also available online


Post a Comment

Let us know how you have been helped by this article or what you have learned from this story.

<< Home