Studies show that more than $75 billion is used yearly around the globe by chocolate consumers. Surprisingly, most consumers are Americans. It’s estimated that an average American takes about 12 pounds or more of chocolate in a single year. Well, this doesn’t surprise considering that chocolate is historically known as man’s ultimate comfort snack. When someone lets you down, when you are stressed with something, and when you are in a bad mood, you can get temporary consolation in a bar of chocolate or a glass of hot chocolate drink. But, is chocolate healthy for you or is it another bad food?
According to health experts, chocolate is healthy if taken sparingly. It becomes a health risk when you consume it excessively. Most experts recommend dark chocolate over the other types because of the amazing nutrients that it contains. They include vitamins and minerals. According to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, “Dark chocolate is the healthiest choice because it promotes better health and general wellbeing.: So as to understand what Dr. Suzanne is alluding, here are 7 health benefits of chocolate, dark chocolate to be precise.
- Disease Prevention
According to a study by the American Cancer Institute, taking dark chocolate may help to lower the risk of cancer. This is because it contains powerful antioxidants that act against cancer cells. The antioxidants fight free radicals in the body that are a toxin to you. The toxins are the ones which initiate the growth of cancerous cells. The antioxidants present in dark chocolate include phytochemicals and vitamins.
Actually, studies show that the more the cocoa content, the higher the antioxidants. In the long run, this translates to better immunity. Additionally, dark chocolate can prevent diabetes. According to a study, the antioxidants discourages insulin resistance as well as its sensitivity. Ideally, dark chocolate promotes the effectiveness of insulin. This is meant to lower blood glucose volume which is associated with diabetes
- Heart Health
When it comes to heart health, the most important ingredients present in dark chocolate are flavanols. According to research by Cleveland Clinic, flavanols help to regulate blood pressure, promote blood flow and reduces the stickiness of platelets. In the end, this minimizes the risk of suffering hypertension, calcified plaque, and blood clots.
This finding is supported by a Research Gate study which suggests that dark chocolate is good for your heart because it promotes better circulation and lowers the levels of bad cholesterol. Furthermore, a 2015 study shows that dark chocolate helps to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertensive diabetes. This is mainly because of the high cocoa content present in dark chocolate. The cocoa content normalizes blood pressure.
- Mental Health
Experts argue that dark chocolate is among the top 15 best foods for enhancing concentration and memory. Well, it’s hard to dispute this view considering the role that dark chocolate plays in your brain. Dark chocolate contains caffeine that stimulates your brain. This is important for focus and reasoning. On the other hand, the cocoa present helps significantly in improving cerebral flow. By doing so, you are able to prevent stroke and slow down cognitive decline ailments like Dementia and Alzheimer.
Based on a Journal of Nutrition study, dark chocolate is a bioactive dietary supplement that generally improves cognitive performance. The other important benefit of dark chocolate is stress management, especially during pregnancy. A Finnish study shows that dark chocolate helps expectant mothers to smile often despite their condition. It’s able to achieve this by lowering the effects of the stress hormone. However, you don’t have to take so much chocolate
- Anti-Aging Effects
Everyone wants a slow aging process. While there are so many supplements that promise this, the most recent one is dark chocolate. The latest study shows that the cocoa present in dark chocolate helps in the synthesis of new sets of mitochondria in the body. The mitochondria are the source of energy for the body and thus are responsible for muscle stimulation and reenergizing. The most reenergized ones are the cardiac muscles and the skeletal muscles. The aim of dark chocolate, in this case, is to help you feel as energetic as a young person. So, it’s able to prevent muscle fatigue and promote better exercising.
- Skin Protection
Are you aware that taking chocolate may protect you from sunburns? According to a London study, chocolate increases skin hydration by promoting blood flow to the skin. This helps to protect you from the damaging effects of UV rays. The study also shows that chocolate promotes faster healing when you suffer sunburns. This is one of the reasons why most skincare products contain cocoa as their primary ingredient. In addition, dark chocolate promotes skin thickness and texture. In the long run, your skin looks much better and healthier.
- Weight Management
Look at it this way – fast weight gain is associated with unhealthy feeding habits. Basically, the more you eat, the likelier you are to add weight. With controlled feeding, however, you can regulate how much you consume. According to a finding by the University of Copenhagen, dark chocolate fills your stomach much faster than most snacks. Taking it reduces the temptation of going for weight gain-promoting foods. A certain study correlates the intake of dark chocolate with 17% low-calorie consumption in the subsequent meal.
- Better Vision
A 2018 study involving two sets of people (one group taking dark chocolate and other taking milk chocolate) show a great contrast between the groups in terms of visual acuity and color contrast. Those taking dark chocolate demonstrated improvement in how they see things and distinguishes colors. The two sets of subjects, however, had no pathogenic conditions. For this reason, the study doesn’t recommend dark chocolate for treating eye conditions but just to boost vision in individuals with healthy eyes.
There is no doubt that dark chocolate has more positives than negatives. Contrary to what most people believe, it’s a healthy snack. The caveat is having to take it in moderation. If you take it for health reasons and not just because you want to overcome your cravings, you stand to benefits a lot health-wise.