‘Chocoliciously’ Healthy!

main_chocolates.jpgFeel like snacking? Go Ahead! Sink your teeth into that heavenly bar of chocolate, you always thought was sinful and do that ever-pumping heart of yours a favor! Researchers have officially declared, on the basis of a recent study that dark, unsweetened (i.e. without any artificial sweetening agents) chocolate has the capacity to prevent heart disease. Before we turn into a permanent chocoholic and indulge in those sweet-nothings, health experts are quick to remind us that chocolates are high in sugar, fat and calories and must be consumed in moderation for their maximum benefits.Incase you’re wondering why those same researches made you feel guilty about even the slightest indulgence, for all these years; it must be revealed that this recent discovery was by pure accident!
A team of scientists told a group of participants to stay away from certain ‘unhealthy’ foods completely, including chocolate for a period of 30 days. However, a large number of them couldn’t bid adieu to this habit, which led the scientists to analysis why a little chocolate a day can keep heart disease away. This discovery paved the way for further research that revealed certain other benefits 🙁 Good news for those chocoholics!)It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant It contains Theo bromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants. Additionally, it was found to decrease the level of LDL cholesterol (low density lipoproteins, i.e. the bad cholesterol) and stress levels in the bodies of those dealing with obesity and high blood-pressure levels. A new research published in the Medical Journal ‘Lancet’, shows that eating chocolate not only prevents cancer and heart disease but contrary to popular belief also fights tooth decay. Research conducted by a scientist from ‘Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment’ shows that chocolates contain antioxidants called Catechins and Phenol, which were earlier believed to be found in the largest quantity only in tea.These reduce the presence of free radicals that damage cells and DNA. Phenols are said to prevent fat like substances in the blood stream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries. ‘Atherosclerosis’, or the formation of plaque in the arteries, is caused by the oxidation of LDL. At first this leads to subtle damage, and then eventually to the formation of advanced plaque. The build up of plaque can lead to the clogging of the arteries, causing heart attack. By acting as a deoxidizing agent, the phenols prevent clogging of arteries, thus averting heart attacks. So, the next time someone lectures you on eating healthy, hand them a bar of lip-smacking, finger-licking dark chocolate and reduce your own guilt of being a hard core chocoholic!

Neha Bhat