It's Chocolatenot Candy
Dr. Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND,MH
So, I'm reading a book on High Blood Pressure. (I know, I know, that is kind of nerdy, but hey, I'm a doctor - that's the kind of thing we read before going to bed). One of the problems associated with high blood pressure is low magnesium in the body. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of the population has depleted magnesium levels in the blood. One of the common medical treatments for high blood pressure are diuretic medications. The reasoning for a diuretic prescription is that if we can decrease the amount of fluid/blood that is pushing against the walls of the arteries, the blood pressure should go down. However, far too often, the diuretic depletes even further the magnesium (and potassium) which caused the high blood pressure in the first place.
Studies have shown that the greater the intake of magnesium, the lower of risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. For many, simply getting enough magnesium in your diet (400-600mg/day) can eliminate high blood pressure.
We recently began using an Far InfraRed Sauna for cleansing and detoxifying the body. We've learned that when we sweat, one of the key minerals we lose is magnesium. Recommendations after sauna use is to replace magnesium. Which comes to my topic of discussion:
Chocolate! Chocolate is very high in magnesium (3 oz of dark chocolate contains 176- 420mg. of magnesium depending on the percentage of cocoa). Please understand, I am NOT talking about candy. I am talking about chocolate, cocoa, or cacao. Real chocolate made from fresh whole natural ingredients. Hersheys, Nestles, M&M's, Kit-Kat bars are candy, weighing in with about 11% cocoa. The FDA require a minimum of 10% "cocoa bean components" to label the product chocolate. This is candy and candy is unhealthy - not because of the chocolate content but with the sugar and plethora of other chemicals that are put into the candy. Chocolate, real chocolate made from cacao beans (pronounced Ka-KOW), then roasted to become cocoa (pronounced Ko-Ko) is the real stuff. The raw ingredient Cacao (Ka-KOW) is combined with a sweetener (ideally a healthy one such as honey, maple syrup or raw cane sugar), cocoa butter and perhaps a few spices. Dark chocolate measuring in at 60-90% cacao is truly a healthy food that has many positive medicinal qualities.
Here are some of the benefits that research as demonstrated with dark chocolate. Real chocolate, NOT candy!
- Heart & Vascular Health. Dark Chocolate is high in the amino acid Arginine which increases Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide in the blood relaxes and dilates the blood vessel muscles and keeps plaque from forming on the artery walls thereby lowering high blood pressure. Arginine also keeps the blood thin by keeping platelet from clumping together abnormally. Dark Chocolate leaves arteries more soft and supple.
- Inflammation. A 2008 study showed that small amounts, one or two squares, of dark chocolate reduced inflammation, which is implicated in heart disease, arthritis and a host of other ailments.
- Dementia and Alzheimers. The polyphenols in dark chocolate will very likely delay and prevent Alzheimers and dementia according to one recent study.
- Appetite Suppression.
Dark chocolate is highly satisfying to the appetite and can actually help you to lose weight.
- Healthy Skin. Consumption of 2 tablespoons of high quality dark chocolate for 12 weeks resulted in skin that was smoother and more moist, which is important for a more youthful look.
- Heart Failure Protection. One 2010 study (of women) showed substantial protection against heart failure, hospitalization or death in those who ate just an ounce of dark chocolate once or twice per week.
- Brain and Vision. Dark chocolate was found to significantly increase short-term memory and visual brain functions. For example, it improved choice reaction time, spatial memory, visual contrast sensitivity and motion detection for starters. In other words, chocolate is a brain booster!
- Medicine. Yes, researchers have actually suggested that dark chocolate could be used as medicine! As I always say, "Food is clinical" and dark chocolate is a perfect example of this. Researchers studied people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and found that dark chocolate actually saved lives and decreased mortality. The researchers emphasized that it needs to be dark chocolate with at least 60-70% cocoa.
- Brain Booster. The studies keep rolling in showing that cocoa is a brain builder. For example, a 2012 study in the journal Hypertension, shows that older people with mild memory problems were significantly helped by consuming dark chocolate. It is important to note that this study showed the benefit ONLY occurring with dark chocolate and that it must be of high quality and low processing.
- Insulin Sensitivity. One of the huge battles for most men (over the age of about 40) is managing their blood sugar and insulin levels. Again, high quality dark chocolate is found to increased insulin sensitivity helping and preventing diabetes.
- Calming Effects.
Dark Chocolate contains significant amounts of both serotonin and tryptophan, which explains the calming effect of chocolate on many people. The magnesium in dark chocolate also will relax tight muscles (think TMJ - jaw tightness).
Do You Crave Chocolate? It could be that you are deficient in Magnesium (most likely), or in need of L-Arginine, Serotonin or Tryptophan. But Please, Please, remember it is chocolate you need, NOT candy. High Quality, low processed chocolate. Do not rationalize yourself into believe that poor quality chocolate -"flavored" candy will be of any benefit. And please don't confuse a sugar addiction with eating real honest-to-goodness chocolate.
Good quality chocolate can be expensive! So why not join us and learn to make your own. Delicious, Nutritious and Fun. See our Class schedule.
Dr. Kyle Christensen
April 10, 2014