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Here’s news that will warm a chocolate-lover’s heart: The health benefits of eating chocolate are indisputable.
In fact, dark chocolate has been proven to be one of the healthiest foods around, holding its own even against many fruits and vegetables.
The reason: Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, a naturally occurring compound.
Numerous studies have confirmed that the flavanols found in dark chocolate can control blood pressure, protect your skin against sun damage and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that, before making their way into the candy aisle, Hershey’s chocolate products were found behind the druggist’s counter… and if big pharma has its way, chocolate may end up there again…
A spoonful of … chocolate
In 1896, Hershey’s advertised its “perfectly soluble” and “absolutely pure” cocoa powder in a catalog for druggists. It wasn’t long before the druggists figured out how to use cocoa powder to their advantage.
Since it was not yet practical to manufacture pills, medicines were sold in liquid form. “Patent medicines” were widely offered as cure-alls for everything from headaches to liver disease to “women’s troubles.” The only problem: most were too foul-tasting to swallow.
So, long before Mary Poppins and her “spoonful of sugar,” pharmacists figured out how to mix Hershey’s cocoa powder and a lot of sugar to make a sticky syrup, and use this “chocolate syrup” to mask the taste of their concoctions.
It was the perfect marriage — taste and age-old health benefits. After all, chocolate’s medicinal benefits have been reported throughout history. But as soon as the pharmaceutical industry got their money-making pill-popping machines up and running, chocolate and its healing properties — like most things that are naturally good for you — were discredited and downgraded to nothing more than a topper for your ice cream sundae.
A prescription for chocolate?
Today, we’ve come full circle, with chocolate once again in the service of the drug industry — but this time, instead of using it to help the medicine go down, they are looking to profit from the health benefits…
Cocoa flavanol extract capsules have been on the market for some time. But now, a British pharmaceutical company has taken things a step further. They’ve developed the first cocoa flavanol supplement made entirely of chocolate.
It is now being marketed in the United Kingdom, targeting people who suffer with heart problems and was even approved by the European version of an FDA.
Can you imagine this happening in the states? Big Pharma would love to have us taking chocolate pills by prescription rather than use diet and nutrition to cure ourselves…
A heart-healthy food you can enjoy
Several studies have shown that eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate daily can cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by at least half. And, plenty of research has been done on the positive effects of cocoa flavanols on cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as on brain function and memory.
To reap the health benefits of flavanols, you don’t need to pop a pill. Just add some rich, flavorful dark chocolate to your daily diet. Make sure it has a cocoa content of 70% or higher. If it’s organic, made with coconut oil and contains little sugar — even better.
Dark chocolate contains far less sugar and fat than milk chocolate (which doesn’t offer the health benefits of dark chocolate). But, if you’re still concerned about eating too much fat and sugar, add some cranberries, onions, kale and red wine to your diet. All of these are flavanol-rich as well.
- Cocoa Flavanols: Emerging Research Is Taking Us Deeper Inside the Cacao Bean — NutritionalOutlook.com
- Flavonols — University of California, Davis
- Some Facts About Flavanols — University of California, Davis
- BLOOD FLOW+ — FutureYou
- Chocolate pill could help cut heart disease risk — BIOPHARMA Business
- Healers Once Prescribed Chocolate Like Aspirin — Smithsonian.com
- The Unlikely Medical History of Chocolate Syrup — Smithsonian.com
- 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate — Healthline Media