Dark chocolate’s health secrets unlocked

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

dark chocolate image
Don’t go chowing down on dark chocolate candies, because they often have too much sugar and fat that outweigh the health benefits of cocoa. Instead, sprinkle cocoa powder on healthy food.

When your sweet tooth begs for some candy, feed it dark chocolate! After all, researchers from the American Chemical Society (ACS) found that little microbes in our gut love to turn the chocolaty goodness into chemicals that improve blood flow.

Basically, our tummies digest the cocoa in dark chocolate to create materials that are anti-inflammatory (reduce swelling, fever, or pain), which can prevent heart and blood vessel diseases. Since our body uses blood to carry everything from oxygen to nutrition through our organs, we need a healthy beating heart to pump it strongly, and clean veins to transport it.

The anti-inflammatory chemicals created by dark chocolate make sure our veins are loose enough to easily send blood right on through. This lowers blood pressure, which is a good thing since high blood pressure can increase risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and brain problems.

However, don’t go stuffing your face with dark chocolate, because many of the candy bars that use it have too much sugar and fat in them. So, your best bet is to put cocoa powder on a healthy food item, like oatmeal.

One day, the ACS scientists hope to create a pill version of dark chocolate. Mars Inc., who’s behind the M&M candy, is actually helping to fund research into chocolate medicine. Then again, where’s the fun in swallowing a dark chocolate pill?!

Featured image courtesy of Fiona Wilkinson on Flickr. Image of dark chocolate candy courtesy of Amy Loves Yah on Flickr.