Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 6, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
For once, something that tastes sinfully good, is good for you!
Enjoyed for over 3000 years, chocolate is surely one of Nature’s most beloved foods. Even its botanical name, Theobroma cacao, confirms this! “Theobroma” literally means “food of the gods,” from the Greek roots theo for “God,” and brosi for “food.” And not only is it a food of the gods (& goddesses, hello!), chocolate packs some serious health benefits!
Dark chocolate contains high amounts of antioxidants (epicatechin and gallic acid) which offer heart-protective benefits. For all you milk and white chocolate lovers out there, this doesn’t count… it has to be dark chocolate (sorry, I don’t make the rules!) The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the better: Try to aim for a minimum of 50% cocoa solids in your next nibble.
And science has caught up with what most of us are already aware of from personal experience: that munching on chocolate can be mood-uplifting! Cocoa solids contain theobromine (similar to caffeine) and phenethylamine, which may have a physiological effect upon two of our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine.
One to two ounces of dark chocolate a day is a moderate amount and will help keep your heart healthy (and you smiling!).
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan