Health Benefits of Chocolate
Countless articles nowadays claim that eating chocolate on a regular basis can work wonders for your health. But is chocolate really good for you, or is this too good to be true? Here are some scientifically established facts that can debunk a good number of negative myths surrounding chocolate.
Chocolate can boost cognitive function.
A Harvard Medical School study revealed a reduction in memory decline and an improvement in the brain health of older people, simply by consuming two cups of hot chocolate per day. Researchers observed that a cup of hot chocolate caused an improvement in blood flow to crucial areas of the brain. In another 2016 study published in Appetite, eating chocolate once a week was found to boost cognitive function. Dark chocolate has also been found valuable in the treatment of brain injuries like concussion, owing to its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants.
A study in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine points that chocolate’s key ingredient, cocoa, has high antioxidant levels owing to its rich phenolic compound content. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing damaging free radicals in the body.
Chocolate can help reduce bad cholesterol (otherwise known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein).
In a study in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers concluded that “Regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS (Plant Sterols) and CF (Cocoa Flavonols), as part of a low-fat diet, may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.”
Chocolate can improve athletic performance.
Another study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that an adequate portion of dark chocolate can help enhance oxygen availability crucial throughout fitness training. In a clinical trial in the United Kingdom, researchers concluded: “After eating dark chocolate, the riders used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace and also covered more distance in a two-minute flat-out time trial.”
Chocolate is good for cardiovascular health.
Research from the British Medical Journal advocates that chocolate consumption can lower heart disease risk by one-third. Dark chocolate can also prevent clogged arteries, as it has been found helpful in restoring artery flexibility. Furthermore, the high levels of polyphenols found in chocolate prevent the clumping together of blood platelets, thus keeping atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) at bay.
A 2015 Heart Journal study found that consuming 100 grams of chocolate a day is linked to significantly lowering risks to heart disease and stroke. Another clinical trial conducted in Finland concluded that eating chocolate diminishes the risk of stroke by 17 percent average as observed in the subjects they tested.
Chocolate can benefit your pregnancy.
According to one study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA, expectant mothers who consume 30 grams of chocolate a day showed improved fetal development and growth. Another study in Finland shows that eating chocolate aids in reducing stress in pregnant women. Once the babies of said mothers were born, they have been observed to smile more often than their counterparts who were born to non-chocolate-consuming mothers.
Chocolate is rich in minerals.
Dark chocolate, in particular, is rich in zinc, potassium, and selenium. Moreover, it is a fact that you can obtain 67% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron by consuming a 100-gram bar of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate.
Chocolate can aid in weight loss.
According to neuroscientist Will Clower, letting a small piece of dark chocolate melt on your tongue 20 minutes before every meal activates hormones in your brain, sending “I’m full” signals. This significantly cuts down your food intake. Another small piece of dark chocolate after a meal can also effectively satiate you enough to reduce unnecessary snacking.
Chocolate improves mood.
What makes you feel good when eating chocolate are attributed to Theobromine, Anandamide, PEA and Tryptophan.
Theobromine, which is virtually caffeine’s cousin, is a milder central nervous system stimulant believed to enhance mood. Anandamide is a bliss-inducing neurotransmitter produced in our brain at very low levels. Derived from the Sanskrit word ananda (which means bliss), anandamide found in chocolate makes you feel euphoric.
PEA or Phenylethylamine is also a naturally occurring neurotransmitter produced in your brain. The PEA in chocolate triggers the release of feel-good endorphins in your brain. Endorphins play a vital role in decreasing pain and stress levels. Tryptophan in chocolate triggers the release of another mood-lifting neurotransmitter into the brain, serotonin, which is crucial in regulating mood, memory, sleep, appetite, and digestion. Low levels of serotonin are also linked to depression.
The Real Deal About Chocolate
Chocolate has long been accused of causing acne, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease and whatnot – perhaps allowing to the high content of sugar, fat, preservatives and additives found in most mass-produced, commercialized chocolate brands.
However, not all chocolate is created equal. Premium and artisan versions – like Coscao Chocolate – actually have a plethora of benefits as emphasized by recent studies mentioned above.