By Riva Preil
Itâ€™s no secret that chocolate is extremely popular throughout the world. However, its reputation has long been one of a calorie rich junk food or candy with little or no nutritional value. The reason for this is the addition of so many harmful ingredients- sugar, oils, fillers, and waxes- which dilute the favorable properties of cocoa. Also the cocoa used in most commercial chocolates is manufactured with a harsh heating process that that destroys the powerful antioxidants and other nutrients naturally found in the cacao bean.
Fortunately, dozens of studies overwhelmingly demonstrate that properly processed dark chocolate still retains its vital antioxidants and other valuable nutrient compounds, and is able to deliver wide ranging benefits to the body. The key when looking for a healthy chocolate is to make sure that it has been cold-processed to ensure maximum antioxidant benefit. The many benefits of chocolate include antioxidant/anti-aging properties, improving cardiovascular health by improving platelet function and decreasing blood clotting, controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, improving blood flow to the brain, improving mental cognition and performance, relieving the inflammatory response, and improving oral health (because polyphenols contained in chocolate increase teeth enamel making them less susceptible to decay).
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