Usually when something is tasty, we're told it's bad for us. For the most part, the experts are right. Sugary and fat-laden foods can be extremely unhealthy. Chocolate is an exception to that rule though. Numerous studies have shown it has potent anti-cancer properties. So, if you're looking for an excuse to eat it, don't. Here's why you should be enjoying this guilt-free food.
Antioxidants and Nutrients In Chocolate That Fight Cancer
Chocolate is made by a long fermentation of cacao beans. The fermentation process changes the bean into something very potent and full of health benefits. Some of the compounds created during fermentation are thought to be responsible for its anti-cancer effects.
For example, antioxidants in chocolate may help quench free radicals and reduce chronic inflammation. This, in turn, may reduce your risk of cancer.
Aside from substances that act like antioxidants, dark chocolate is also very rich in minerals which support your body's immune system and its ability to fight off cancer.
A 100 gram bar of chocolate, containing 70%-85% cocoa, contains:
- 58% of the RDA for magnesium
- 89% of the RDA for copper
- 98% of the RDA for manganese
- 67% of the RDA for iron
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of processes in the body. Many of those processes involve regulation of inflammation and tumor growth. As such, when magnesium is low, it may encourage tumor growth.
A study involving magnesium-deficient rats, for example, showed they developed tumors of the thymus gland. The thymus is what helps the body fight off infection. So, not only would these rats develop cancerous tumors, they would be less able to fight off subsequent infections.
Copper, manganese, and even iron serve similar purposes, regulating the immune system and helping the body control inflammation and cancer growth.
Special Compounds In Dark Chocolate Fight Tumor Growth
Tumor growth is complex and there are many reasons why a cancerous tumor might spread. The compounds in chocolate have been found to get to the root cause of one of those reasons. In 2005, scientists at Georgetown University discovered a new compound called pentameric procyanidin.
This compound deactivated proteins in the body that are responsible for cancer cell division. If cancer cells can't divide, they can't spread. It just so happens that chocolate is full of this pentameric procyanidin compound.
Types Of Cancer Chocolate May Prevent
Numerous studies have shown dark chocolate helps lower the risk of several types of cancers, including:
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
It contains potent antioxidants, called flavonols and polyphenols, which slow the growth of cancerous cells. The higher the percentage of cacao in the chocolate, the higher the concentration of these protective substances.
Should You Eat More Chocolate?
While there are chemicals in chocolate which hypothetically could fight cancerous cells, your favorite candy bar isn't going to cure cancer. Even dark chocolate isn't powerful enough to do that. Should you eat more of it? Sure. If you want to eat something rich in antioxidants and minerals, it's one of the healthiest foods out there. Make sure you eat chocolate bars that are at least 70% cacao to get the benefits.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. For professional dietary advice you should always consult a Registered Dietitian (RD), and for diagnosis of a health condition you must see your physician.