By Lu Heaney
“There are times when chocolate really can fix all your problems” Dark chocolate is a perfect food; it is as wholesome as it is delicious. Dark, rich and creamy it is one of our most accepted guilty-pleasures, so you may be surprised to learn that raw cocoa contains more antioxidant flavonoids than red wine, green tea and blueberries. In just one ounce of dark chocolate, you get the same beneficial plant chemicals as in a cup of brewed black tea. Not only can chocolate revitalize the appearance and texture of our skin, it can help protect it from sun damage, lower blood pressure, and increase circulation. It’s chocolate-loving-care for the whole body!
“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food” Dark chocolate contains a whole host of antioxidants, nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. Antioxidants help to prevent cellular damage and disease by neutralizing free radicals, the destructive oddly-numbered molecules that act as scavengers of the human body. The antioxidants in cocoa are easily absorbed and are more stable and long-lasting than those found in other foods like Acai berries, blueberries, dark green vegetables, and legumes. Cocoa is also a source for essential trace elements, minerals, and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, zinc, copper, vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, and several nutrients. For that reason, dark chocolate is able to impart calming properties to the skin, diminish the physical signs of aging, absorb UV light, reduce inflammation, allergens, viruses and carcinogens, and balance certain hormones in the body.
“And above all…think chocolate!” Eating dark chocolate provides many noteworthy health benefits. Raw and unprocessed organic cocoa and dark chocolate made from raw and unprocessed organic cocoa are accepted as “healthy chocolate”. Not only does dark chocolate have antioxidants that can help reduce blood pressure, it also contains healthy fats like oleic acid; a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and thought to raise the level of the “good cholesterol” known as HDL. Other beneficial compounds found in cocoa are similar to those found in red wine and can slow cardiovascular disease by preventing plaque formation in our arteries, which can lead to blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. Cocoa also improves skin’s texture, thickness, hydration, and blood flow.
“I am not overweight. I am chocolate-enriched” You may also be shocked to learn that dark chocolate can help you lose weight. Dark chocolate is actually a low-glycemic food and because it has appetite-suppressant properties, cocoa is often added to weight loss products to help control hunger. What about the sugar content? Well, the amount of flavanols in extra dark chocolate is so high that it offsets the amount of sugar added. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, will have the opposite effect seeing as the milk in milk chocolate impedes the absorption of antioxidants. The profuse amounts of sugar in milk chocolate reduce the benefits of cocoa by promoting inflammation, which in turn leads to a breakdown of tissue resulting in micro-scarring which eventually becomes macro-scarring, which to often results in facial lines and wrinkles.
“Do not disturb: chocolate fantasy in progress” Indulge your craving for chocolate with delightful chocolate essences, all the while melting away dead skin cells leaving our skin glowing and nourished. Dark chocolate masks are pure and rich in natural ingredients like theobroma oil, commonly known as cocoa butter, and antioxidants. Chocolate facial masks not only leave our skin feeling nourished, firm, smooth, and deeply moisturized, but entice the senses as well.
“Chocolate isn’t a food, it’s a medicine – an anti-depressant” Not only are you improving the appearance of our skin, but by using true cocoa with added essential oils you receive aromatic and therapeutic rewards. The use of cocoa in facial treatments may trigger the brain’s pleasure centers. Chocolate contains caffeine and two other substances, tyramine and tryptophan, that are converted into the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which play a large role in the pleasure and reward mechanisms of our brain. Cocoa is also shown to stimulate endorphin production, which imparts a sense of pleasure. What better way to indulge our chocolate craving without adding calories and still feel sinfully fulfilled.
“I never met a chocolate I didn’t like” Cocoa is currently being studied to see if it helps prevent premature aging of the skin due to its high antioxidant content which helps improve circulation, as well as effectively absorb some harmful UV rays. When healthy dark chocolate is blended with ingredients like quinine, kojic acid and licorice extract, is shown to be useful when addressing pigmentation.
“A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine” Chocolate is a multifaceted food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. There are four “dosage” recommendations of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate:
- 6.3 g (30 calories) per day, about the size of a Hershey’s Kiss morsel
- 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, the equivalent of a small square of chocolate two or three times a week
- no more than 25 gram, or 2.5 squares of dark chocolate, a day
- up to 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 days
All natural (non-dutched) cocoa products vary in dosage depending on the amount of natural cocoa in the product. If you like a hot chocolate with milk or cream, substitute rice milk or soy milk to ensure you are receiving the full benefit of the healthy antioxidants in each sip. Cocoa and chocolate should not be considered a substitute for medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Lu Heaney, NY Aesthetician & Beauty Specialist
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