There are now even more reasons for chocolate lovers to keep eating chocolate! As more astonishing research comes in, the substance is going from a bad-for-you treat to a significant health food. Those of us who’ve continued to indulge in occasional chocolate treats can now easily justify our cravings and quit feeling so guilty!
Below you will discover the 9 proven health benefits of chocolate.
1. Decreases Your Risk Of Heart Disease
You may have already discovered that chocolate contains beneficial flavonoids and antioxidants. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant foods which are full of established health benefits. There are more than 4,000 flavonoid compounds, which are a subgroup of compounds called polyphenols. Phenols are believed to help decrease the chance of heart disease by helping prevent atherosclerosis. The flavonoids in chocolate appear to aid the body use nitric oxide, which is crucial for blood pressure regulation and healthy blood flow, which suggests that chocolate might help reduce hypertension as well.
2. High In Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants
Red wine is known for its high phenol content, however an average bar of dark chocolate contains more phenols than 8 ounces of red wine. Scientists at Seoul National University and Cornell University examined the cancer-fighting antioxidant content of red wine, cocoa, and tea, and found that cocoa had almost double the antioxidants of red wine and four to five times more than tea.
Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment found that dark chocolate contains 53.5 mg of catechins per 100 grams. (Catechins are the powerful antioxidants that fight against cancer and assist in preventing heart disease). By comparison, a cup of black tea comprises only about 14 milligrams of catechins and green tea has about 30 mg of catechins.
3. Has Anti-Clotting / Blood Thinning Properties
A study at the University of California found that participants who ate chocolate revealed a reduction in platelet activity. What this means is that chocolate has an anti-clotting, blood-thinning effect that may be compared to aspirin.
4. Helps You Live Longer
A Harvard University study of 8,000 people, with an average age of 65, revealed that those who ate chocolate lived almost a year more than those who didn’t.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
A study of elderly men in The Netherlands, known for it’s high chocolate intake, showed that those who ate the most chocolate, an equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day, had lower blood pressure. The researchers also noted the guys eating the most chocolate weren’t heavier compared to the men who ate less.
6. Boosts Brain Power
And it’s not just dark chocolate that’s the sole healthful kind of chocolate. Most studies talk about the advantages of dark chocolate, but some of the very most recent news about chocolate contains great news for milk chocolate lovers, who have been left out in the past.
The Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia did a study that reveals that milk chocolate seems to boost brainpower. The groups in the evaluation had milk chocolate, dark chocolate and carob on occasion. Subsequently they were tested for cognitive performance including reaction time, attention span, memory and problem solving.
The study found that consumption of milk and dark chocolate was correlated with increased reaction time and improved impulse control. It appears that by consuming chocolate you get beneficial effects from substances found in chocolate, like theobromine and phenylethylamine, which increase mental operation.
7. Makes You Feel Good
Chocolate really does make you feel good. It is well known to trigger the secretion of endorphins, creating a pleasurable sensation much like the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles. Chocolate also has a neurotransmitter, serotonin that acts as an anti-depressant. Studies in England show that even the aroma of chocolate provides a feeling of euphoria and will assist to lift the spirits.
8. Good For The Skin
And now individuals are taking a look at chocolate for skin care. According to Marlies Spinale, director of Tru Spa, “Like many other antioxidants, cocoa polyphenols are thought to give the skin protection from free radical damage due to sunlight, pollution, stress, alcohol consumption and other factors. I believe that we will discover more regarding the benefits of chocolate in skin care.”
9. Nutrient Rich
Because one of the primary ingredients of chocolate is cocoa butter, many people have been staying away from chocolate. Actually, cocoa butter is healthy, although it was once believed that it was an unhealthy fat. It’s composed of the beneficial fatty acids – oleic acid (a heart healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are healthy forms of saturated fat. Plus chocolate contains vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, along with potassium, sodium, and iron.
So go ahead and indulge in chocolate, in moderation of course. I’d advise that you simply make an effort to seek out organic chocolate, and stick with darker chocolate because it has less sugar and more beneficial flavonoids. (Sugar weakens the immune system; so do not have sugar if you are sick.) When you need an occasional milk chocolate brainpower boost, like before a test, a bit of milk chocolate is all you need.
If you want to buy organic dark chocolate, then there’s a great selection at Amazon with great customer reviews.
Chocolate as a health food – Can life get any better?