Chocolate: Good for the Mind, Body & Spirit

What Do 9 Out of 10 People Think of Chocolate?

“9 out of 10 people like chocolate the 10th person always lies.”

So it’s not a scientific survey, but it’s true. Everyone loves chocolate.

Any real chocolate lover will tell you chocolate is the “food of the gods” and is beneficial for the mind and spirit. Nutritionists, food science, and cardiologists have also shown through trial and practice that chocolate is good for the body.

The ancient Aztecs knew a divine drink when they tasted one. The learned that by crushing Theobroma cacao seeds and mixing with water would allow a man to walk an entire day without food. In more modern times, Michael Levine, a food researcher, determined that chocolate is the world’s perfect food — chemically.


Dr. Ruth Westheimer noted sex therapist, said the taste of chocolate is a sensual pleasure in itself. She even elevated it to the same planetary scope as sex. Why? Chocolate strokes the release of endorphins, the naturally produced hormones which generate “feel good chemistry” and boosts a sense of well-being. Chocolate can make someone feel better by interacting with the brain. Tryptophan, an active ingredient in chocolate, is a vital amino acid needed by the body to manufacture serotonin, a mood-modulating neurotransmitter. Increased levels of serotonin give way to feelings of happiness.

Anandamide, another neurotransmitter, is also part of the chocolate package deal of ingredients to make a person feel good. Anadamine works on the very brain centers as THC, the effective ingredient in pot.  While the brain already has its own healthy anandamide levels, experts point out that anandamide levels are so small in chocolate it would take several pounds to impact the brain centers to the same degree naturally occurring anandamide does.

Chocolate’s comforting properties, the capability to enhance the mood and revive a balanced sense of well-being encourage many people to eat chocolate when emotionally distressed. The mood-elevating traits are apt to be caused by endorphin release.

Body & Heart

Various dietary studies have been noted for recognizing cardioprotective effects of flavanol-rich foods and beverages. Black tea, green tea, red wine and cocoa all contain high quantities of flavonoids. Flavonoids exert their cardioprotective effects by fighting oxidation, improving endothelial function and reduces the blood’s natural clotting tendency. Flavonoids also decrease hypertension, a leading cause of heart disease.

What’s the Downside?

Most people agree chocolate is delicious in whatever form, foods or beverages. Research studies have shown real benefit of cocoa consumption. But….

There are other factors that should be thought about before making chocolate a part of a person’s regular diet plan.

Edible chocolate is made palatable by raw cocoa being blended with other ingredients to make it less bitter. The additional ingredients aren’t as healthy as pure chocolate products and things such as fat and sugar are mixed in during the processing phase of chocolate production.

When consuming chocolate, caloric intake is significant. Chocolate is more calorie intense than many other foods and packs an enormous number of calories into a small bite of food. Chocolate averages about 500 calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).

Besides the sugar and calories, another issue to look at is fat content. Fats make up as much as 50-percent of the total calories in a chocolate bar. While the fat content of chocolate is high, not all of the fat is harmful. Cocoa butter, for example, is made of palmitic and stearic acids, both saturated fats and oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Chocolate made with palm, coconut or hydrogenated oils are less healthy and can boost bad cholesterol levels.

Types of Chocolate

The three primary sorts of chocolate usually available are:

  • Dark, Semisweet Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate, and
  • White Chocolate

Dark, Semisweet Chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate mixed with additional sweeteners include at least 35-percent chocolate liquor, and the fat content is roughly 27-percent. Dark chocolate has approximately three times the number of flavonoids than milk chocolate.

Milk Chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate with added cocoa butter, milk and flavorings. American made milk chocolate contains at least 10-percent cocoa and 12-percent whole milk.

White Chocolate

Contains plenty of cocoa butter but doesn’t have nonfat cocoa solids. “White chocolate” usually describes goods produced from cocoa butter and milk solids. It doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor. No flavanoid health benefits are present.

A Recommendation

Choose the dark chocolate. Enjoy in moderation and savor the moment. Just do regular checkups.