Health benefits of Chocolate

Published on: 06/07/2022


Heart health

Lots of studies reveal that the flavonoids in chocolate can help your veins and arteries to stay supple. Over 7 studies followed 114,000 participants who were given a few servings of dark chocolate a week. The results showed that their risk of getting a heart attack was reduced by about 37% while the chances of getting a stroke were 29% less when they had a higher consumption of chocolate.

Memory

Research has shown that when elderly people were given specially prepared cocoa extracts which was high in flavanols, their cognitive function greatly improved. The only problem is that when it comes to eating chocolate, the percentage of those cocoa flavanols is much reduced due to the processing and the addition of eggs, sugar and milk.

Sunburn

One study conducted in London (because apparently, the UK with its reputation for being a very sunny place was the perfect place for such a study) found that women who were given chocolate with a high flavanol content were able to withstand double the amount of UV light on their skins without burning, compared to those on lower doses.

Maths

A study at the Performance and Nutrition at the Research Center of Northumbria University showed that participants given 500mg of flavanols in a cocoa drink benefited from increased blood flow to the brain. This allowed them to better use complex calculations and maths problems.

Mood

A study at the University of Swinburne in Australia showed that the polyphenols found in chocolate have a beneficial effect on your mood. They can help to make you calmer and happier. This could be why during periods so many people end up craving chocolate. This is likely due to the flavanols in chocolate helping to release endorphins which play a key role in helping to prevent depression and other mental disorders.

Cholesterol

There was a study done to determine whether dark chocolate could have any effect on the LDL cholesterol levels. They found that when subjects were given bars of dark chocolate with plant sterols and flavanols, they were getting lower scores on their cholesterol levels.

Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is caused by the deterioration of brain pathways. There was a study that showed that a particular extract from chocolate called Lavado is actually beneficial to your brain and helps to reduce damage to vital pathways, slowing the progress of the disease.

Exercise

Another magical flavanol in chocolate is epicatechin. Mice were given this substance and they were much fitter and stronger than those mice on water only. Researchers say that to get the best results from your workout you have to limit the amount to only about half of one square of chocolate a day! If you have too much, it could undo the beneficial effects.

Nutrition

Did you know that if choose chocolate with a high cocoa content (75% to 85%) you are getting a very nutritious snack? Take the typical 100-gram chocolate bar. It has almost all of your RDA for copper and manganese. It contains over half your magnesium RDA and about two thirds (67%) of your RDA for iron. It also has about 10% of fibre. There is also lots of zinc, selenium and potassium too.

Blood pressure

You may not know it but having the right amount of NO (Nitric Oxide) in your body can help your arteries to relax. That will, in turn help to take some of the pressure off them and the result is a lower BP count. Just another benefit of the dark chocolate flavanols which help to produce this vital Nitric Oxide.

Pregnancy

Researchers have established that one of the chemicals in dark chocolate, theobromine, can stimulate the heart and help the arteries dilate. When pregnant women were given higher doses of chocolate, they had a 40% less chance of developing preeclampsia.

Diabetes

You probably think that chocolate is too sweet for diabetics and is one of their banned treats, but one small study at the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that the right does of chocolate flavonoids can help the body’s metabolism and enhance insulin function. This could benefit people with diabetes but more studies need to be done.

Food cravings

One of the healthiest snacks you can have is a piece of dark chocolate because it fills you up quicker and reduces your craving for salty and sweet snacks, according to a small research study.

Cough

Theobromine found in chocolate can be used to help soothe a troublesome cough. Manufacturers are looking at this to produce safer cough syrups instead of using codeine which has some undesirable side effects.

Circulation

Normally you take an aspirin to help prevent blood clotting and to improve circulation. Studies now show that chocolate can have a similar effect.

Vision

University of Reading researchers were curious to see if dark chocolate flavanols could actually improve vision as they knew it certainly improved blood circulation in general. They decided to do a small experiment and gave two groups of volunteers some white and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate groups were doing better on vision tests afterwards.

Fatigue

If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome you should try adding chocolate to your daily diet. One group of sufferers were given a daily dose of chocolate for two months. They were less tired and the best news of all is that they did not put on any extra weight.

BMI

There has been a lot of emphasis on how chocolate can actually reduce your BMI (Body Mass Index) which is how you measure up as regards your height versus your weight. One study took 1,000 Californians and they found that those who ate chocolate more often during the week had a lower BMI. Overall diet and exercise regimes were not factors that influenced this result.

Cancer

As we have mentioned, the cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These are important in keeping the actions of free radicals at bay. As we know, these are the protagonists when cancer starts to invade cells.