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Health Implications of Chocolate: The Flavonoid Overview

For centuries, Americans have enjoyed the delectable and soothing flavor of chocolate. Cacao beans, commonly used as currency by the Aztec Indians, became a common dietary staple among the more afluent residents of the New World. Throughout history, the use of cacao beans, in the development chocolate, has proved very useful. In terms of alternative medicine and natural health approaches, chocolate is believed to hold the key ingredient to improving a variety of health conditions.

Used in coffees, as hot drinks, in foods and in desserts, chocolate is produced in a variety of strengths, colors and textures. For individuals suffering from disease or illness an ingredient in chocolate, known as flavonoids, provides a unique approach to the usefulness of chocolate in an approach to natural healing. Flavonoid, found naturally in chocolate, works to protect cells from environmental toxins and provides an antioxidant therapeutic affect in the body. Without antioxidant activity in the body, cells are negatively impacted by free radical damage which may lead to high cholesterol levels and damage to arterial walls. In addition to anti-oxidation, flavonoids also work to reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. With this in mind, is it possible to consume too much chocolate? Not really. Let’s examine the other flavonoid punching food products.

In addition to chocolate, flavonoids are also found in red wine, tea, cranberries and even strawberries. All of these natural health products, in addition to chocolate, work to improve blood flow and may, as a result, improve cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, too much consumption of flavonoids, can lead to health complications including migraine, irritable bowel syndrome and even chronic fatigue. More noteably, these adverse reactions and symptoms may onset suddenly in individuals who have developed a sensitivity to the flavonoid combination naturally found in foods such as chocolate. However, as a general rule, individuals consuming flavonoids would have to consume more than 25 pounds of flavonoid abundant foods, such as chocolate, to produce a signficant health hazard. It is rare this leve of consumption would occur in one daily dietary intake.

Powered with the knowledge of the flavonoid origins, most consumers would likely agree the consumption of chocolate is the first choice in a food product. When considering a flavonoid benefit, through the consumption of chocolate, it is important to understand which chocolates are the most beneficial as not all chocolates are equal! As a general health rule, the darker the chocolate, the more abundant the naturally occuring flavonoids. The basis for this finding lies in the general manufacturing of chocolate candies in which flavonoids are destroyed, by up to 50 percent, during the cacoa bean processing. Because dark chocolate contains higher levels of unprocessed cacao, the flavonoid component is more significant.

To obtain optimal flavonoid health benefits, consuming dark chocolates from chocolatiers such as Dove and Ghirardelli. Both chocolate manufacturers provide chocolate in a variety of combinations from dark to white. For information on the purchase of dark, flavonoid rich, chocolate, visit www.ghirardelli.com. As with any candy supplemented dietary program, consult a physician before consuming more than one candy bar per day. Once cleared by a physician, enjoy the impact of smooth and delicious chocolates and the lifelong positive health implications.