The ancient Mayans were using dark chocolate thousands of years ago for its medicinal purposes. Recent research has confirmed its numerous healthful benefits. This often surprises people because it is usually associated with gaining weight and possible other ill effects.
There are two major differences in healthy and conventional chocolate. One, conventional products are heated, and processed. This not only strips its nutritional value, it adds a host of negative effects. Two, the unprocessed variety provides statistically significant health benefits not found in the other types. The key in providing a healthful benefit is to cold press the raw version without heating it.
A conventional chocolate bar, or candy, has been processed, heated, and stripped of its nutritional value. This does not even take into account all of the additional unhealthy ingredients. It’s critical to eat the unprocessed variety to get its full health benefits.
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The Anti-inflammatory Power of Polyphenols
Dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols, which have been found to exert powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory behavior. Antioxidant quality is measured by its ORAC rating. ORAC stands for “Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity.” Antioxidants and free radicals have been highly publicized in the media.
Free Radicals are scavenger molecules that are highly reactive. They circulate through the body attempting to become more stable. In the process, they wreak havoc on otherwise healthy cells. For this reason, excessive free radical damage has been linked to cancer, inflammation, and accelerated aging, among other disease processes.
The polyphenols in healthy dark chocolate neutralize free radicals through their antioxidant actions. Research has shown that these antioxidants reduce circulating inflammatory markers. Inflammatory markers are chemicals found in blood serum that are known to cause pain and inflammation.
Let’s put the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory power of raw dark chocolate into perspective. The current food pyramid recommends at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The ORAC rating for 10 servings equals 5,000.
Based on this recommendation, a person would have to eat over one half gallon of raw leafy vegetables per day to get the recommended amount. One spoonful of raw dark cocoa powder is equal to 25,200 ORAC units. This is equivalent to over 50 servings of fruits and vegetables, or 2.5 gallons of raw leafy vegetables!
With this level of anti-inflammatory potency, it’s no wonder that so many people are reporting such dramatic results after starting a regimen.
In summary, raw dark chocolate is an antioxidant/ anti-inflammatory superfood based on scientific research. Its extremely dense levels of antioxidants provide a strong anti-inflammatory action. Therefore, dark cocoa should be included as part of nutritious and healthful diet.