Those Valentine’s Chocolates May Help With Pain and More
Those Valentine’s Chocolates May Help With Pain and MoreFebruary 9th, 2019 by Cindy Perlin
Does your significant other have chronic pain? If your answer is yes, giving your Valentine chocolates may not just be a sweet, romantic gesture. It also can help reduce pain and improve overall health. The health benefits of chocolate are so extensive that it is considered by many to be a superfood
The benefits of chocolate come from the cacao bean. The higher the concentration of cacao, the more benefits from the chocolate. Dark chocolate with a cacao content of 65% or more is best. Dark chocolate is superior to milk chocolate because it has more healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, more fiber, higher levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Dark chocolate also has more flavonoids, nutrients found in plants that reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
Chocolate increases the production of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates. As a result, it decreases pain and lifts mood. It’s also the only known food source of anandamide, a natural cannabinoid that attaches to the body’s cannabis receptors, just like marijuana. This is another source of chocolate’s pain-relieving effects. Chocolate also boosts release of the body’s natural amphetamines, phenylethylamine, which increases energy.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts as an antidepressant, is also boosted by eating chocolate. This may be why so many people reach for chocolate when they need a mood boost.
The heart benefits of chocolate are considerable. It helps restore the flexibility of the arteries as well as preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Eating chocolate has also been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol and raise levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL). As a result, it reduces atherosclerosis, a disease of plaque buildup inside arteries. Probably because of these effects, daily chocolate consumption has been linked to a lower risk of stroke.
It’s even good for the brain. A study at Harvard Medical School found that two cups of hot chocolate a day helped improve blood flow to essential parts of the brain. This indicates that chocolate could help in fighting diseases of progressive cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s.
If your Valentine is expecting, there are benefits for both mom and baby. A Finnish study found that pregnant women who ate chocolate had less stress and their babies smiled more than the babies of moms who didn’t eat chocolate.
So what’s not to like? Well, chocolate does have a lot of calories, about 150 per ounce. So moderation is key. The trick is to substitute it for less healthy treats. I must confess: I am a chocoholic. And for a long time, I’ve had the motto: If it ain’t chocolate, it ain’t dessert.
So, choose dark chocolates in that heart-shaped box and enjoy them with your Valentine without guilt. And have a happy Valentine’s Day!