In the past, chocolate was deemed "the food of the gods," only for the elite to enjoy. Nowadays, everyone can enjoy the bittersweet taste of chocolate, as well as the health benefits that it provides. Chocolate is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, known to prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate along with other iron-rich foods helps reverse mild cases of iron-deficiency anemia that doesn't require medication for treatment. Iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most prevalent forms of anemia among women, children and the elderly.
Anemia occurs when your body has an abnormally low number of red blood cells. There are different types of anemia, but the most common among them is iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia occurs when there's an insufficient amount of iron present in the body due to heavy bleeding or malnutrition. Iron is responsible for hemoglobin production and carrying oxygen throughout the body. The course of treatment for iron deficiency anemia is a combination of iron tablets and increasing vitamin C and iron in the diet. Vitamin C is necessary for increasing your body's iron uptake.
Iron in Chocolate
Chocolate is naturally mineral rich, and the purer the chocolate is, the more minerals it contains. One bar of milk chocolate contains 5.2 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, whereas a bar of dark chocolate contains 6.9 percent iron. Chocolate also contains flavanoids, which are plant nutrients that naturally protect plants from toxins. The main flavanoids in chocolate are flavanols. According to the Cleveland Clinic, flavanols improve blood circulation to the brain and heart, which is welcome news to those who have poor circulation due to anemia.
Go for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate, and it's lower in milk and sugar content. Antioxidants protect and repair the cells from oxidation caused by free radicals. Free radicals are environmental pollutants that damage the cells and cause chronic diseases such as cancer. To increase your good fat intake, choose dark chocolate bars that contain almonds. Almonds contain polyunsaturated fats, which lower bad cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of heart disease.
Don't self-treat your anemia with chocolate; if you've received a proper diagnosis from a medical professional, follow his instructions for treatment. Chocolate doesn't contain enough iron to treat iron-deficient anemia or enough B vitamins to treat folate-deficient anemia or megalolastic anemia. Untreated anemia can be fatal, so take any supplements or medications given to you by your physician as instructed.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What is Anemia
- International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research; The Role of Vitamin C in Iron Absorption
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health and Prevention: Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled
- National Heart and Lung Institute: What is Iron Deficient Anemia?
- Journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians; Anemia in the Elderly