Is chocolate your guilty pleasure? Stress no more and think big. A 2012 study established a correlation between the consumption of chocolate per capita in a country and their number of Nobel Prize winners. The higher the consumption, the higher the rate. Coincidence? We think not! Here are 8 reasons why chocolate is good for you.
1. Chocolate may improve cognitive functions
Thanks to flavonol, a natural nutrient found in cacao, chocolate may improve your cognitive function by boosting brain blood flow. Flavonol is also known to reduce memory loss and increase verbal fluency for the elderly. Too good to be true? Read up the British study that proves chocolate may help you think better and faster.
2. Chocolate may reduce high blood pressure
A 2007 study has shown that people consuming chocolate regularly lowered their risk of heart disease, cholesterol, and calcified plaque in their arteries. Thanks to its flavonoids such as epicatechin and catechin, chocolate allows arteries and veins to stay supple.
3. Chocolate may help enhance attention span
Chocolate with at least 60% cacao have a high amount of theanine which is known to enhance attention span and relaxation.
4. Chocolate has an antioxidant effect
Chocolate has many compounds such as polyphenols, catechins and flavanols that have a very active antioxidant effect. Antioxidants are good for the heart and may lower risks of some types of cancers. Levels are said to be 3 times higher than in green tea and two times higher than in wine
5. Chocolate may help improve your mood
Due to its high levels of theobromine and magnesium, chocolate has a positive impact on stress, anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that chocolate-eaters are calmer and happier. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine which is a chemical that pushes your brain to release endorphins. These hormones trigger a feel-good feeling in the body.
6. Chocolate contributes to skin protection against the sun
A study conducted by the London University of Arts has shown that people who were eating dark chocolate could handle sun exposure longer without burning compared to non-chocolate eaters or people eating chocolate with low flavonols. Flavonols improve skin hydration and density which in turn help protect you against sun damage.
7. Chocolate may help reduce weight
Eaten in moderation, chocolate contributes to lower body mass index (BMI). The catechin within chocolate helps reduce weight and leads to slimmer muscles. Moreover, dark chocolate helps triggering the satiety feeling that can prevent you from over-snacking.
8. Chocolate is good for expecting mothers
Because chocolate helps reduce stress, a 2004 Finnish study has linked smiling and laughing babies with the fact that their mothers were eating dark chocolate during pregnancy.
Plus, chocolate could reduce pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia (characterized by very high blood pressure) thanks to the theobromine that dynamizes the heart, dilates blood vessels and relaxes muscles.
Practical tip: What sort of chocolate should you chose?
Definitely not milk or white chocolate. The above listed health benefits are for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao.
70% + dark chocolate contains:
But beware: dark chocolate is very rich and is best consumed in moderation!
If you are like the Healthy Matters team, you may want to indulge every day… ok maybe twice a day. Our office's ultimate favorite is 78% dark chocolate! We’re a happy team but maybe not that calm...
- Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates, Franz H. Messerli, M.D., October 18, 2012, N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1562-1564
- Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine, Lee KW1, Kim YJ, Lee HJ, Lee CY, J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7292-5.
- Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light, Williams S1, Tamburic S, Lally C. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Sep;8(3):169-73
- Effect of cocoa and tea intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis, Taubert D1, Roesen R, Schömig E. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Apr 9;167(7):626-34.
- Sweet babies: chocolate consumption during pregnancy and infant temperament at six months, Katri Räikkönen, Aleksi Pesonen, Anna-Liisa Järvenpää, Timo E Strandberg, Published in Early human development 2004.
- The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people, Francis ST1, Head K, Morris PG, Macdonald IA, J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006;47 Suppl 2:S215-20.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.