Friday, August 26, 2011

Dark Chocolate

                         Some of us don't like dark chocolate. 

Some of us may have the thought that it's not even chocolate at all because it's bitter and that our taste buds are missing some sugar. Some of us scoff and scowl at the mere mention of Dark Chocolate. To those who have followed the deception of milk chocolate, only to view their ever expanding hips and thighs. I say HA ! First things first, dark chocolate is the world champion title holder of antioxidants. Antioxidants aid in exiting the free radicals, unpleasant unhappy little molecules that causes aging and disease. The main types of free radicals are called super oxide, hydroxyl, singlet oxygen, peroxyl, and hydrogen peroxide molecules. The body likes all of its molecules/atoms to have even numbers of electrons. When the oxygen mixes with the molecule it gains an extra electron, making it an unstable free radical with an uneven number of electrons. Now you have to remember that environmental factors like smoking, radiation, pollution, hypertension, a high-fat diet, and elevated blood sugars can also oxide the body'scells to form free radicals.

They're formed during infections (oxidation is necessary for health because oxidation is needed to kill microrganisms) or chronic inflammation when free radicals are formed to fight the infection and over produce themselves. Even strenuous exercise will increase the production of free radicals. I'm sure you think, that there are other antioxidants that are better than dark chocolates. Let’s see red wine, green tea or even blueberries. To all of them I say "Take A Seat". The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a table of antioxidant foods measured in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Units (ORACs). For every 100 grams, dark chocolate has 13,120 ORACs while blueberries have only 2,400. Blindness, arthritis, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and even physical aging can result from free-radical damage. Sugar? Well, too much IS is bad. Now, that a bar of dark chocolate may have 10 to 15 grams of sugar, but still less than the 22 grams in your glass of orange juice or even less than the 29 grams in your yogurt. 

Dark chocolate is made without or with a very small quantity of milk solids. However, this less percentage of milk solids gives a bitter taste to the chocolate also giving it a chalky and dry texture.
A range of dark chocolates are available out there in the market from which you can choose according to your taste:


VARIETY      COCOA SOLIDS    
SWEET DARK CHOCOLATE 35%-45% 

SEMI SWEET CHOCOLATE
(For cookies, brownies, cakes, etc.)
40%- 60%

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE
(intense chocolate taste)
60%-85% 

UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE

(used only for baking purpose)
100


Your Mood:

According to a recent survey every fourth person in U.S. is

affected by depression. So, lots of research was done to find out the relation between dark chocolate and depression. The cocoa of dark chocolate helps in releasing serotonin and also relaxes the cardiovascular blood vessels. The cold processed cocoa has natural dopamine that is linked with the enhancement of mental acuity, which elevates your mood. When you feel tired and low, that causes the release of free radicals. The antioxidant present in the dark chocolate, i.e. the flavonoids go to work. The MAO inhibitor chemical present in cocoa helps in fighting depression. Serotonin acts as a natural anti-depressant. The serotonin and dopamine chemicals help in lowering the risk of depression and increases mental functions. Eating dark chocolate also triggers endorphins, which are body’s own opiates. An increased endorphin level result in less pain sensitivity, and gives us a feeling of contentment and also elevates mood. Stay with me now, dark chocolate is also rich in Vitamin B and vitamin B provides support to your brain to function properly. You also get an improved and better state of mind with the magnesium and iron properties of your dark chocolate.
 

Your Skin:

Image DetailDark chocolate helps to maintain a youthful and healthy skin. This antioxidant powerhouse promotes healthy cellular tissue throughout the body. For thousands of years cocoa has been known for its medicinal properties because of the high amount of the antioxidant present in it. They are acknowledged as the best source of antioxidants as per 100g. The cocoa butter which is extracted from the cocoa bean is also beneficial for the skin as it acts as a good and natural skin moisturizer. Cocoa butter is recommended by several dermatologists for curing various skin ailments like dermatitis, prevention of stretch marks during and after pregnancy, eczema, etc. The polyphenols present in the cocoa butter helps by calming the irritation and also has cancer fighting properties.
 The antioxidants of the dark chocolate give a glowing and healthy skin. Indulging yourself in a chocolate milk bath, calorie-free cocoa bean skin polish, or a chocolate fondue body wrap. They can be a good option to give your skin a fresh and younger look.
Dark chocolate being the rich in anti- inflammatory antioxidants shows promise of improving acne. Eating 2 ounces of dark chocolate having 70% cocoa improves the skin texture and reduces the extra oiliness. The antioxidants (flavonoids) protect the skin from the various external and internal damages caused to the skin by pollution, smoking and sun damage. The epicatechins present in flavanoids acts as great natural anti- inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant, which guard the skin from damage caused due to aging. Cocoa relives the stress hormones which in turn soothe the collagen in the skin preventing wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.


Blood Pressure:

The flavonoids in dark chocolate make the platelets i your blood less sticky which prevents them from forming clots. Clots block the passage of blood in the blood-vessels which makes the blood pressure high. Flavonoids also help in keeping the arteries relaxed or dilated. The greater the arteries get dilated the more easily the blood flows. The flavanols also boosts the production of endothelial nitric oxide, which also improves the dilatation, and results in lowering of the blood pressure.
Blood Pressure
In a research done at one primary care clinic in Germany 44 adults aging from 56 – 73 and had an untreated upper range of pre-hypertension (blood pressure ranging from 130/85 to 139/89) were recruited. 22 of which were given a daily dose of 6.3 g (30 calories) of dark chocolate and the others were given the same amount of milk chocolate for 20 days. Along with the lower blood pressure in the dark chocolate group pressure other changes were seen. Change in plasma level, and reduced body weight. The blood pressure of the other 22 persons having milk chocolate did not change.So not all chocolate is heart healthy. White chocolate, which a Harvard researcher says is not really chocolate and milk chocolate will expand your hips more than your arteries. Also none of the instant cocoa mixes in the store coontain the flavinoids that improve blood vessel function. Also watch the sugar content, it's industry regulated, so you know what that means. Good Luck...







 
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