We just can’t wait for The Maritime Museum of San Diego’s Chocolate Festival, this May 3rd-5th! Call me crazy, but I’m walking around the house in that kind of bubbling, frothy excitement that I used to get in the days approaching Christmas. I’m a big fan of chocolate, and I think it’s safe to say that there are quite a few people out there who share my enthusiasm.
In my opinion, one of the best things about chocolate is that, when used in moderation, it has some serious health benefits to offer. There are a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding this confectionery delight, and this article seeks to set the record straight on a few of them!
Chocolate is actually good for your skin!
Will wonders never cease? Despite what you may have been told, it turns out you can’t blame your breakouts on chocolate. Studies conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology show evidence that cacao itself is not the culprit (though more research is required to make a definitive statement.)
What could be causing a spotty complexion? Possibly the milk contained in some chocolate treats. The majority of milk drunk in the United States comes from pregnant cows. It’s possible that the hormones released into their milk might spark a a nasty flare up.
The truth is that dark chocolate’s high antioxidant and flavonoid content may in fact offer some natural protection from the UV rays of the sun. Antioxidants also help to destroy free radicals in our system, which have been linked to premature aging. While this shouldn’t be seen as permission to down a Hershey’s Special Dark and skip the sunscreen, it’s good to know that chocolate is doing more in our bodies than just pleasing our palettes!
I know what you’re saying, “I don’t buy it, if I even look at chocolate I break out! Studies be damned, all the evidence I need is in the mirror!” Well, the addition of chocolate to a diet already rich in carbohydrates may be another contributing factor to skin troubles wrongly pinned on chocolate by it’s lonesome. Research tends to suggest that the body works most efficiently on a low-glycemic index diet (i.e food low in carbohydrates.) When doing so, the body can release a fairly small amount of insulin into the blood stream, allowing the body to maintain effective glucose levels. In this stage, a person is said to be insulin sensitive. Glucose is where we harvest our energy from and keeping a proper balance in our bloodstream is vital in maintaining health.
Eating large amounts of carbohydrates can launch our bodies into a condition known as insulin resistance. The overdose of carbs means that there is such a high amount of glucose already in the bloodstream that the body becomes desensitized. When this occurs, more insulin has to be released to initiate proper function.
There are all sorts of health problems that can come from insulin resistance. For starters, it inhibits weight loss. When the bloodstream holds surplus glucose already there is no need to tap into fat reserves for more. This causes fat to be stored and accumulate, which over time can contribute to obesity. High blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease are also linked to insulin resistance.
So what does that have to do with sporting a pizza face? Studies have begun to show evidence that another harmful side effect of insulin resistance is over production of sebum. Sebum is the oily substance in our skin that traps dirt and clogs up pores producing zits galore. If you’re loading up on sugars and starches already, adding sugar laden milk chocolates to your diet won’t be doing you any favors. Reach for the dark stuff instead! This leads me into my next point…
Chocolate Increases Insulin Sensitivity
An Italian study seen here: http://www.warehousemultimedia.com/gochocolatenow/docs/AJCN.pdf has found evidence that suggests consumption of dark chocolate actually increases insulin sensitivity. Not only that, but their findings seem to suggest that dark chocolate also was responsible for lowering blood pressure. That’s good news for people who are battling diabetes, heart disease, obesity and any number of health conditions that plague the modern era.
Give It Up For Those Flavonoids!
Again, we have to thank the antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate. It appears these have a hand in fighting inflammatory responses in the body and effectively lowering the risk for cardiovascular incidents. A state lead study in Pennslyannia further shone the light on flavonoids. This study suggested that subscribing to a diet high in flavonoid-rich cocoa powder and dark chocolate had some striking effects with relation to decreasing LDL (“bad” cholesterol.) This was compared to diets which introduced flavonoid through sources such as wines, tea, or coffee and even unprocessed foods such as apples, onions, beans, soybeans, and juices such as orange or grape.
Give In To The Craving
Enough chemistry already, chocolate tastes great, what more do you need? Well, next time you need a mid afternoon pick me up, give yourself the green-light on a bite or two of some rich, dark chocolate. Not only does it bring an assortment of healthy bonuses along with every mouthful, but a study out of Copenhagen now seems to show evidence that dark chocolate reduces cravings for other snacks. How often have you felt just a bit peckish, and what started off as just a nibble of a cookie, then just a couple potato chips, and maybe a few tic-tacs suddenly turns into a scavanger’s buffet? Start off with dark chocolate instead and you’ll feel more satisfied. The deep dark variety is more filling than milk chocolate, and helps curb cravings for sweet, salty and fat laden foods.
Hopefully this article wet your appetite for more. Stay tuned for video and a full report of our upcoming adventures at The Maritime Museum’s Chocolate Festival this May 3rd-5th! http://www.sdmaritime.org/chocolate-festival/ More chocolate goodness to follow!