What people seem to love more than chocolate is the fact that science confirms that it is good for your overall wellbeing. Recently, chocolate has been proven to improve cognitive performance, according to a study. Not just that, dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that work against the effects of aging. The fact remains that milk chocolate contains a lot of fats and sugar that can cause more harm than good. For this reason, it’s dark chocolate that we are talking about. Organic, dark chocolate that has more than 70% of cocoa content or higher happens to be of the best quality; hence it can give the most benefits. When taken in moderation, chocolate can potentially boost your vigor, making you live a longer and healthier life.
Here are three of the most powerful ways that chocolate makes you healthier.
1. Helps Make You Fit
Researchers at UC San Diego found out that chocolate can act as a type of performance enhancing drug! Epicatechin, a compound present in chocolate was seen to significantly improve the endurance of the test subjects while they were running on a treadmill. The catch, however, is that the test subjects were mice, not human. Whether humans have a similar reaction to epicatechin has not been confirmed yet, however, if it did, you would require only about half a dark chocolate square. A tiny speck of chocolate also gives you enough energy to run, researchers say. It is to be mentioned that milk chocolate does not have epicatechin as it is destroyed in the process of making it.
2. Reduces Strokes and Heart Attacks
In 2012, an analysis on more than thirty seven thousand Swedish men showed that the rate of stroke was seventeen percent lower among those who ate a lot of chocolate, despite controlling the other factors. This and many other researches prove that this is indeed true. Of course, a proper diet and exercise is also vital instead of just eating a lot of milk chocolate. Several other risk factors of heart diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol level can also be controlled.Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which stimulate the lining of the arteries so that they are relaxed. This lowers blood flow resistance, resulting in reduced blood pressure. It was seen in a trial that the LDL cholesterol in men was significantly reduced by consuming powdered cocoa. This effect is largely due to the fact that chocolate is rich in antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage by going into your bloodstream. LDL cholesterol by itself or after oxidation is capable of causing major damage to tissues, such as the artery linings of your heart. Another amazing effect of dark chocolate is resistance to insulin. This risk factor is the cause of diabetes and heart diseases.
3. Increases Brain Activity
Last but not the least, more chocolate implies more brain power, according to a study conducted on around a thousand people from New York City. The results showed that most people who ate good quality dark chocolate once in a while performed better in various intelligence tests and questions. Ancient Mayans also agreed that chocolate made you smarter- hence they took a rather spicy version of drinking chocolate as opposed to the sugary ones we make today. Savory chocolate dishes are pretty common around the world too, and can apparently contribute to better brain function. A study conducted on healthy subjects (human this time!) has shown that blood flow to the brain was improved with the consumption of high flavanol cocoa for five days. Elderly people and those with mental impairment can benefit from this fact as it improves cognitive function. Verbal fluency was improved in them and several risk factors were decreased. Theobromine and caffeine contained in cocoa act as stimulants, which may be the major reason behind the improvement of brain functions.
There has been considerable proof of the fact that chocolate can provide some powerful health benefits, especially for combating cardiovascular diseases. Now that you know the above three ways, in which chocolate benefits us, go ahead and indulge in a dark chocolate square or two after dinner! However, we should not get carried away with chocolate. Be careful that milk chocolate is full of calories and can be pretty addictive. Hence we should make sure we don’t overeat on them.