Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, a sure-fire stand-by in times of stress, a reliable source of consolation when life has let us down, and a mood-enhancer and romance-inducer in more positive circumstances. But is it at all healthy?
If you scoff lots of it, obviously not. But there are a host of medically proven ways in which chocolate — good chocolate, which is to say dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of around seventy per cent or more — really is good for us.
Research is continuing all the time, and experts have already found that chocolate is good for the heart, circulation and brain, and it has been suggested that it may be beneficial in such major heath challenges as autism, obesity and diabetes.
Below are 6 reasons, backed by scientific research, why chocolate may be good for you:
Chocolate Is Heart-Healthy
The cocoa/cacao bean is an extremely rich source of many essential minerals, including magnesium, copper, potassium and iron. Most of these minerals may affect vascular health and function, improving cocoa’s nutritional effects. Studies published in 2012 and 2014 have demonstrated that consuming dark chocolate helps improve blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels as well as reducing the risk for heart failure and improving blood pressure – all positives in keeping a healthy heart.
Chocolate Can Actually Help You Lose Weight
Another myth debunked by science! Chocolate does not cause weight gain and strangely, it may even help you shed those unwanted pounds. Gaining weight is associated with control problems, and interestingly chocolate has been demonstrated by scientific research to improve control in the long-term, with periodic consumption of chocolate while a person is on a diet. Think of it as positive reinforcement. This technique has been found to contribute to better weight loss and maintenance.
Chocolate May Reduce Diabetic Risk
One of the biggest no-no’s in managing diabetes is sweets. Chocolate consumption has however been shown to be inversely related to diabetic risk, as well as having the ability to improve tissue health and reduce oxidative stress caused by high blood sugar levels. According to a 2011 review of studies of chocolate and human health, the antioxidant effects of the cocoa components may beneficially influence insulin resistance and in turn reduce the risk for diabetes.
Chocolate Can Improve Memory And Alertness
Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substances. Not only can flavonoids help improve cardiovascular health, they also have very positive impacts on neurological health, boosting your mood, memory and alertness. The next time you take a study break, try to eat a piece of chocolate! Raw cacao also make an excellent snack for a road trip as it may contribute to alertness without the “caffeine crash”.
Chocolate Is Mood Enhancing
In 1996, researchers discovered a substance called anandamide in chocolate. They also detected the presence of two substances that might mimic the effects of anandamide, N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine. Anandamide is actually a mild euphoriant. Increasing the brain’s anandamide levels is thought possibly able to help anxiety and depression. It’s also possible that anandamide may play a role in pain suppression, though the mechanism for this appears not to be fully understood yet.
Chocolate Can Improve Your Skin
It is not a well-known fact that chocolate isn’t the culprit when it comes to breakouts. Pimples and zits are caused by your skin producing too much sebum, which can be attributed to hormonal imbalance. The phenolic, flavonoid and total antioxidant capacities of cocoa have been found to be higher than that of other phytochemical-rich foods. A study in 2014 actually revealed that cacao’s bioactive compounds can protect your skin and make it look smoother, younger, and healthier.