Need reasons to eat chocolate? Here you go, doctor’s order

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A new study shows that chocolate can actually help gout flare-ups by decreasing the level of uric acid in the body as well as offer other health benefits.

Uric acid is a chemical created when the body breaks down substances called purines. Purines are normally produced in the body and are also found in some foods and drinks. Foods with a high content of purines include liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, beer, and other grain alcohols.

Chocolate can lower uric acid crystallization and lowering uric acid crystallization can be a lifesaver if a person has ever had the unpleasure of dealing with gout and the pain it brings. In addition to the swelling and pain in the feet, which makes it difficult to walk, gout can also significantly increase blood pressure.

Chocolate has polyphenols associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and gout definitely induces inflammation. When the inflammation is reduced, the pain subsides.

The antioxidants in chocolate could also possibly lower blood pressure and improve kidney function. Although there have been many claims that chocolate helps with kidney function, more research is needed to prove those claims. Kidneys eliminate uric acid from the body. The majority of the time, high uric acid levels in the blood occur when the kidneys do not eliminate the uric acid properly.

Other influences that may cause the kidneys to not properly remove uric acid are rich foods, being overweight, diabetes, taking certain diuretics (sometimes called water pills), and drinking too much grain alcohol. Drinking tomato juice can also cause gout to flare up.

Factors that may cause a high uric acid level in your blood include:

  1. Diuretics (water retention relievers)
  2. Drinking too much alcohol
  3. Genetics (inherited tendencies)
  4. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  5. Immune-suppressing drugs
  6. Niacin, or vitamin B-3
  7. Obesity
  8. Psoriasis
  9. Purine-rich diet — liver, game meat, anchovies, sardines, gravy, dried beans and peas, mushrooms, and other foods
  10. Renal insufficiency (inability of the kidneys to filter waste)
  11. Tumor lysis syndrome (a rapid release of cells into the blood caused by certain cancers or by chemotherapy for those cancers)

Also, you may be monitored for high uric acid levels when undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer.

Chocolate also reportedly can affect moods…in a happy way.

Additionally, eating chocolate may also have the following benefits:

  • lowering cholesterol levels
  • preventing cognitive decline
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems
  • Fetal growth and development
  • Oxygen levels during workouts

According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA., Eating 30g (about one ounce) of chocolate every day during pregnancy might benefit fetal growth and development.

However, there is a catch to all of this chocolate eating.

It is mostly chocolate that is not filled with added sugar and sweeteners that offer some of these benefits and help people with gout.

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on earth. Multiple clinical studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary garbage) can improve health and even lower the risk of heart disease.

Chocolate that has zero sugar and many health benefits is cacao nibs and unsweetened cocoa powder.

White chocolate does not count and is not even recognized as real chocolate since it does not contain much of the cocoa or chocolate solids found in milk or dark chocolate.

Light (milk chocolate) vs. dark chocolate nutrients

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Rule of thumb is that the darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, therefore, according to studies, the higher the level of antioxidants there will be in the chocolate bar.

If you can stomach it, 100 percent unsweetened chocolate is the best, health-wise.

Many of the chocolates can be purchased online at reasonable prices.