Dark Chocolate - The Many Benefits
We all know that anything that tastes or feels good is bad for you, right?
Wrong! We've already covered how
Sex Is Good For Males. Well, dark
chocolate is yet another example.
Dark chocolate is relatively low on calories and high on flavanoid-rich cocoa.
Dove is the gold standard, but almost any true dark chocolate will do.
The merits of dark chocolate are coming out in the studies almost every month,
but here's a few of the most important:
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1) Heart Health. Cocoa, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, is
very good for the heart. It lowers blood pressure among other things. See
2) Kuna. Imagine a world with no heart disease. Well, the
Kuna live in such a world and cocoa is one of their
secret weapons. Read here to
find out about the Kuna and the unique lessons we can live from this third world
3) Nitric Oxide. Dark chocolate increases Nitric Oxide, the stuff of
erections. Yes, it increases blood flow into the penis and that's just
what you need for a healthy sex life. For other examples of foods that do
the same, consider the Peak Testosterone Erectile Strength Diet.
4) Inflammation. A 2008 study showed that small amounts, one or two
squares, of dark chocolate reduced inflammation, which is implicated in heart
disease and a host of other ailments.  See my link on Inflammation for
5) Delay In Dementia and Alzheimers. The polyphenols in dark chocolate will very
likely delay and prevent Alzheimers and dementia according to one recent study.
6) Appetite Suppression. Dark chocolate is highly satisfying to the appetite and can
actually help you to lose weight.
Researchers in Copenhagen showed that men who first consumed dark chocolate
later consumed 15% less pizza, which adds up to a lot of calories.  In
other words, dark chocolate can actually prevent you from overstuffing the ol'
7) Stearic Acid. The primary fat in chocolate is a saturated fat, but
has much less negative effects on your blood lipids than most other kinds of
Stress Reduction. Well, this is still more good news for chocolate lovers.
All you type A's out there, listen to this: Nestle's lab found that in high anxiety subjects, a small bar of dark chocolate
significantly reduced stress hormones. 
9) Skin. Consumption of 2 tablespoons of high-flavanoid cacao for 12 weeks
resulted in skin that was smoother and more moist, which is important for a more
youthful look. 
10) Heart Failure Protection. One 2010 study (of women) showed substantial
protection against heart failure hospitalization or death in those who ate just an ounce of chocolate
- not necessarily dark in this case -
once or twice per week.  Note that eating over one serving per day was
associated in a loss of all protective benefits.
11) Brain and Vision. High flavanol dark chocolate was found to significantly
increase short term cognitive and visual brain functions.  For example, it
improved choice reaction time, spatial memory, visual contrast
sensitivity and motion detection for starters. In other words, chocolate is not
just a sex booster - it's a brain booster.
12) Medicine. Yes, researchers have actually suggested that dark chocolate could
be used as medicine! As I always say, "Food is clinical" and dark
chocolate is a perfect example of this. Researchers studied people with
high blood pressure (hypertension) and
Metabolic Syndrome and found
that dark chocolate actually saved lives and decreased mortality.  The
researchers emphasized that it needs to be 1) dark chocolate with 2) at least
60-70% cocoa. 
13) Brain Booster. The studies keep rolling in showing that
cocoa is a brain builder. For example,
a 2012 study in the journal Hypertension, shows that older people with mild cognitive
impairment were significantly helped by consuming high-flavonol cocao. 
It is important to note that this study showed the benefit ONLY occurring with
the higher flanonol cocoas, so your dark chocolate must be of high quality and
14) Insulin Sensitivity. One of the huge battles for most men (over the age of
about 40) is managing their blood glucose and insulin levels. Of course,
prediabetes and often
occur when men lose their insulin sensitivity. (This can be triggered by
Inflammation.) Again, high quality cocoa can come to the rescue as one study
found that it increased insulin sensitivity.  Is there anything this wonder
plant can't do???
"What are you waiting for?" That's my only question for those of you who
don't eat dark chocolate. It is simply one of those things in life that is too
good to be true but really is.
15) Serotonin. Chocolate also contains significant amounts of both serotonin and
tryptophan, which are important in the production of serotonin. They believe this explains
the calming effect of chocolate on many people. (Magnesium actually helps tryptophan
16) De-Stiffens Arteries. A recent study found that dark chocolate
de-hardened arteries in overweight, middle-aged men. And they also found
that it kept white blood cells from sticking to arterial walls, which should
help with arteriosclerosis prevention. 
CAUTION: You may want to read my link on
Does Chocolate Have An Ideal Dosage? There are some strong indications
that there is such a thing as too much chocolate.
CAUTION 2: You may want to read my link on
TNF Inhibitors as well. Cocoa may stimulate TNF-alpha production in some cases
and this inflammatory cytokine is a root cause for diabetes,
arthritis, arteriosclerosis and many other ills. However, it should be pointed out
that The Kuna, who are heavy consumers of cocoa, show no ill effects.
CAUTION 3: The only "side effect" that I know related to dark chocolate is that it
can relax the valve between stomach and esophagus in some sensitive people,
leading to heart burn. Also, if you happen to be the type that actually
knows what to do in the kitchen and are using cocoa in your recipes, you will
generally want to
avoid Dutch-processed cocoa or cocoa "processed with alkali". Alkali
processing is used to lower the naturally acidic pH of
raw cocoa but, unfortunately, strips out most of the flavanol content. One
study, for example, showed that alkali processing lowered the flavanol content
from an average of 34.6 to 13.8 and 7.8, respectively, for lightly and heavily
processed cocoas.  My understanding is that the standard Hershey's and
Nestle's cocoa that you buy in the supermarkets (in the U.S.) use a processing
called Broma that leaves the flavanol content largely untouched.
1) J Nutr, 2008;138:1939-1945, "Regular consumption of dark chocolate is
associated with low serum concentrations of C-reactive protein in a healthy
2) J of Alzheimer’s Disease, 18(4), in-press, “A Diet Enriched in Polyphenols and
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, LMN Diet, Induces Neurogenesis in the
Subventricular Zone and Hippocampus of Adult Mouse Brain.”
J of Proteome Res, 2009, Published online ahead of print Oct 2009, "Metabolic
Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and
Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects"
J Nutr, Jun 2006, 136(6):1565-9, "Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa
provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition
University of Copenhagen. "Dark Chocolate Is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate
And Lessens Cravings." ScienceDaily 23 December 2008. 22 March 2010
6) Journal Agric Food Chem, 2008, 56 (18):8527–8533, "Impact of Alkalization on
the Antioxidant and Flavanol Content of Commercial Cocoa Powders"
7) Circulation: Heart Failure, 2010; 3:612-616, "Chocolate Intake and Incidence
of Heart Failure: A Population-Based Prospective Study of Middle-Aged and
8) Physiol Behav. 2011 Feb 12;103(3-4):255-260, "Consumption of cocoa flavanols
results in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions"
9) BMJ, 2012, 344: e3657, Published online 2012 May 31, "The effectiveness and
cost effectiveness of dark chocolate consumption as prevention therapy in people
at high risk of cardiovascular disease: best case scenario analysis using a
11) HYPERTENSION, AHA, Published online before print August 14, 2012, "Benefits
in Cognitive Function, Blood Pressure, and Insulin Resistance Through Cocoa
Flavanol Consumption in Elderly Subjects With Mild Cognitive Impairment"
12) Am J Clin Nutr, 2005 Mar, 81(3):611-4, Short-term administration of dark
chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a
decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons"
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-02/foas-wdc022714.php, "Why dark
chocolate is good for your heart New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that
consumption of dark chocolate lowers the augmentation index, a key vascular
health predictor, and reduces adhesion of white blood cells to the vessel wall"