Roy
Posted by Roy

In this post, I will present the many health benefits that eating dark chocolate are known to have for men.  First, I will present the FDA’s recent classification of chocolate.  Then, I will compare dark chocolate to other more accepted “healthy” foods.  Next, I will address chocolate’s mood-enhancing properties.  And finally, I will present my thoughts on the health benefits of men–especially husbands–giving chocolate.

Is Chocolate a Healthy Food? 

Healthy vegetables

You may have noticed that I used the word “food” in this heading instead of “treat.”  We all “know” that chocolate of any type will never take the place of a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables.  Well, that may be true, but what we “know” has a way of changing over time.

Consider the following quote from Barkeater Chocolates:

The FDA in conjunction with the USDA, unveiled the newest Food Plate guidelines in a White House press conference earlier today. The change comes with a tasty addition: chocolate. Citing 401 independent studies on the compounds of chocolate, the newly appointed FDA Commissioner, nominated under President Trump, declared chocolate has met the federal guidelines for being a vegetable. [1]

Chocolate is now a vegetable.  So how do we know that we are getting real chocolate?

The FDA has set minimum requirements for chocolate content labeling.  If a chocolate product does not contain at least 2% cocoa powder, paste or cocoa beans, it must be labeled, “This product is not a significant source of chocolate.” [1]

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, and the FDA made clear that the presence of only cocoa butter without cocoa paste will not be classified as a vegetable; therefore, products featuring only cocoa butter will not meet the 2% minimum. [1]

How Dark Chocolate Compares to Other Fruits and Vegetables

Chocolate is made from cocoa. Cocoa is a rich source of health-protective phytochemicals, like the kind you get from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Two tablespoons natural cocoa powder offer the same antioxidant power as 3/4 cup blueberries. [2]

Compared to other chocolate, dark chocolate is the richest source of phytonutrients. But it also has a slightly bitter taste, so some people prefer the sweeter–less healthy–milk chocolate.

One phytochemical in cocoa is nitrate which gets converted into nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide is a chemical known to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. [2]

Another phytochemical in cocoa is flavonoid which is believed to reduce the risk of heart disease in the elderly and may help reduce muscle soreness in athletes.  Flavonoids are also found in plants like tea, apples, and onions [2]

According to one study, published in Chemistry Central Journal, the antioxidant content of dark chocolate is higher than so called “super fruits” like acai berry, blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate. [3]

Antioxidants are believed to fight the damaging effects of oxidative stress on cells within the body and have many heart-healthy properties.  Two groups of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols have been the focus of much research due to their potential health benefits.

Results from those studies follow: [3]

  • The antioxidant activity of cocoa powder was higher than all other super fruit powders analyzed.
  • The total flavanol content of cocoa powder (30.1 milligrams per gram) was higher than all other super fruit powders tested, which averaged less than 10 milligrams per gram.
  • The total antioxidant activity of dark chocolate per serving was significantly higher than the super fruit juices except for pomegranate juice.
  • The total polyphenol content per serving was highest for dark chocolate at about 1,000 milligrams per serving. This was significantly higher than the fruit juices except pomegranate juice.
  • Dark chocolate also had the highest total flavanol content per serving at more than 500 milligrams, followed by cocoa beverage at about 400. All of the super fruit juices had less than 200 milligrams per serving of this type of antioxidant.

According to preventive cardiologist, Suzanne Steinbaum, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “These substances help keep the arteries healthy and are protective against cardiovascular disease…  When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice!” [3]

According to Debra Miller, lead scientist in this study, “The compounds in dark chocolate are just as good as the botanical compounds in fruit.  Cacao seeds should be considered a ‘super fruit’ and products derived from cacao seed extracts such as natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate, as ‘super foods.” [3]

Because dark chocolate generally has a higher percentage of cocoa content than milk chocolate, its health properties are greater. 

The cocoa powders, cocoa beverages, and dark chocolate used in the above study contained natural or non-alkalized cocoa.  The process of alkalization is often used to mellows the flavor of cocoa, but the process also destroys the polyphenolic compounds. [3]

Eating Chocolate Can Improve your Mood

It is clear, at least to chocolate lovers, that eating chocolate makes you feel better.  But despite numerous clinical trials, the exact reasons why eating chocolate makes you feel better are not so clear. [4]   Chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, which create the feeling of pleasure in your brain. But how?

I stated above that cocoa contain a wide range of phytochemicals, including flavanols. Cocoa also has a wide range of methylxanthines, which are stimulants.  Belgium researches propose a mood pyramid “to help summarize the general and more specific psychopharmacological activities and mood or cognition-enhancing effects associated with different cocoa or chocolate constituents.” [4]   NOTE:  I could not make up a sentence like that.

At the bottom of the pyramid are cocoa flavanols because of their believed cognition-enhancing effects.

At the next level are the methylxanthines (caffeine and theobromine).  These are not found as commonly in nature as flavanols, but research has shown methylxanthines may have additive or synergistic effects on cognition as well as alertness.

At the next level is salsolinol, derived from dopamine which plays a role in the reward system of the brain. It is believed that salsolinol may be the addictive component of chocolate.

At the top of the pyramid are the orosensory properties which refers to the palatability or the taste of chocolate.  This may explain individuals’ desire to eat chocolate and its effects on mood. [10]

The science behind the mood enhancing effects of eating chocolate might be vague, but that does not diminish what we chocolate lovers know to be true:  Eating chocolate makes you feel good.

Giving Chocolate Can Also Improve a Man’s Health

A recent Singaporean study of seniors suggests that even small increments in happiness can increase longevity. [5]    Another study suggests that couples happily married for a log time or couples who have been in a happy life-partner relationship for many years live longer, healthier, and more financially stable lives. [6]

So, with these two studies in mind, consider the following:

  • In addition to dark chocolate’s several acknowledged nutritional benefits, eating chocolate makes us happy; happiness helps us live longer; being in a happy marriage or life-partner relationship helps us live longer, healthier, and more financially secure lives.

I have been married for many years.  And I can attest to the accuracy of the statement. “A happy wife means a happy life.”  While I am not aware of a scientific study to support what I have just stated, I believe that many married men and women would agree with me.

If your wife or “life partner” is anything like mine, she or he loves to receive fine chocolates.  And many of us understand that the happiness or lack of happiness of your spouse has a very direct and usually immediate impact on your own happiness.

It seems clear, at least to me, that by presenting your wife or “life partner” with a delicious and beautiful gift of world-class fine chocolate, you are improving your chances of a longer, healthier, and happier life.  Find out if your fine chocolate is world-class by clicking here.

Bonus Recipe

This is my opinion on how to achieve the most benefit from dark chocolate.  In addition to a responsible regimen of a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and consistent sleep, add the following daily dessert to dinner:

Routinely surprise your wife or life partner with a gift of world-class fine organic dark chocolates.  You can read my opinion on truly world-class chocolate here.  Add to this gift expressions of your gratitude and appreciation for her or his companionship. 

To share the health benefit, take one handful of fresh organic blueberries and one piece of fine chocolate each.  Enjoy this combination while sharing a brisk 30-minute walk.  During the walk, add one part talking to two parts listening.  Sprinkle to taste with expressions of praise and appreciation for each other.  This recipe will add years of happiness and health to both of your lives.

Summary

I have presented some of the known or believed health benefits–or lack of–for dark and milk chocolate.  First, I introduced the FDA’s declaration that chocolate meets the federal guidelines for being a vegetable.  Then, I compared dark chocolate to other more accepted “healthy” foods.  Next, I discussed some of the components of cocoa thought to be responsible for chocolate’s mood-enhancing effects.  Finally, I presented my unscientific opinions about how giving chocolate has additional health benefits for men, especially husbands.  As a bonus, I included my favorite recipe for adding years of happiness to the lives of any happily married or happily life-partnered couple.

Whatever your preference for world-class fine chocolates may be, you will soon be able to find the best chocolates online at the Go to Chocolate Store.

If you found this article informative and interesting, please take a moment to Share us and Like us on your favorite social media site.

References:

  1. “FDA Declares Chocolate A Vegetable”. Barkeater Chocolates, 1 April 2017.
  2. “Is Chocolate a Health Food?”. Active,
  3. “Dark chocolate better than acai berry, blueberry, cranberry for antioxidants”. News Medical Life Science, 8 Feb 2011
  4. “How does chocolate actually affect your mood?”. Medical News Bulletin, 25 April 2018
  5. “Happy older people live longer?”. Science Daily, 27 August 2018
  6. “Couples are healthier, wealthier…and less trim”. The Guardian.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi Roy,

    Excellent article with great information. I honestly had no idea that the FDA has declared Chocolate as a vegetable! That truly made my day. I have been eating organic dark chocolate for years and have always enjoyed it. I knew that it had a ton of antioxidants but didn’t know that it beat many of the “super fruits”. I have trailed off with eating dark chocolate as of late but after reading this I am definitely going to pick some up as soon as I can. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Roy

      Thanks for the comments. To be honest, I was not aware of many of these facts before researching the topic. Like you, I have enjoyed organic dark chocolate in moderation for many years, and now I will enjoy it even more often. Thanks again for the kind remarks, and I hope you stop back when our chocolate store is open for business.

      Roy

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