You want to eat dark chocolate, but you feel guilty about it. Do you think you are committing a food “sin” that your body will pay for with obesity, diabetes, decay, or cardiovascular disease? Stop!
1) Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and protects the heart and blood vessels
It’s no secret that chocolate protects your heart and your blood vessels. It also lowers your blood pressure. Several studies have proven it!
For example, a scientific study with 39,000 Swedish female participants reached the following conclusions:
The rate of occurrence for cerebral infarction was 7.8 per 1000 in women who ate less than 8.9 grams of chocolate a week,
But it was only 2.5 per 1000 in women who ate at least 45 grams of chocolate a week.
Another example? After analyzing the results of 7 studies in which 114,000 people participated, scientists from the University of Cambridge reached a conclusion: consuming high-dose chocolate reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 37%.
Dark chocolate’s protective effects on the cardiovascular system are mainly due to its flavonoids. They have the power:
To reduce the risk of atherosclerosis,
To increase good cholesterol,
To prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol and to reduce it,
To prevent blood platelets from aggregating,
To improve the elasticity of blood vessel walls.
To learn more about how chocolate reduces cardiovascular risk, read the article Sensational: Several Scientific Studies Show How Chocolate Reduces Cardiovascular Risks.
2) Dark chocolate is a powerful antidepressant
You may have noticed it: it is difficult to be depressed when you have just absorbed dark, white or milk chocolate. On the contrary, we feel a wave of pleasure and well-being take over.
This is normal: chocolate contains anti-stress substances:
- Serotonin and dopamine, the happiness hormones,
- Magnesium whose deficiency makes us sensitive to stress,
- Anandamide, a substance that, when consumed in high doses, has effects similar to those of cannabis.
All this is confirmed by many scientific studies. For example, a study, published in 2009 in the Journal of Proteome Research, was conducted with 30 adult participants.
For 2 weeks, they consumed 20 grams of dark chocolate at mid-morning, and another 20 grams of dark chocolate at snack time.
At the end of the study, the researchers noticed a marked decrease in their level of cortisol, one of the stress hormones.
To learn more about the powerful anti-stress and anti-depressant effects of dark chocolate, discover 3 good reasons to eat chocolate.
3) Chocolate stimulates the brain
Scott Small, a neurologist at Columbia University, conducted a study published in “Nature Neuroscience”. He separated 37 volunteers into 2 groups. For three months, the first 19 participants consumed a cocoa drink every day. As for the other 18, they did the same, but their drink had a much lower concentration of flavonol.
Then he gave them various memory tests to identify abstract forms that had been presented to them before. The results of the first 19 participants were better.
But, this study is not the only one. There have been many others. For example, the “Scientific American” reports a study conducted by researchers at the University of L’Aquila in Italy.
This study involved 90 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease. They were divided into 2 groups:
In the first group, the participants consumed a cocoa-based beverage containing high or medium levels of flavanol daily for eight weeks.
In the second, the participants consumed drinks containing low levels of flavanol daily for eight weeks.
Then, the researchers gave both groups three tests: a verbal fluency test, a visual search test, and an attention test.
The results were clear: individuals in the first group (those who had consumed high or average levels of flavanol) got better results.
Conclusion: flavonols (especially epicatechins) in chocolate stimulate the brain. They increase the blood flow to the part of the brain responsible for the decline of memory. But that’s not all: thanks to increased blood flow, the brain gets more oxygen and increases its attention span.
How to enjoy the virtues of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate has many virtues: it protects our cardiovascular system, fights against depression and stress, and stimulates our memory and attention.
But beware, if we want to enjoy the benefits of dark chocolate, we should moderate our consumption. Eating three chocolate bars at a party, okay! That’s excusable!
But eating that much every day exposes you to different health problems such as obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and so on.
Scientists advise us to consume only 30 grams to 100 grams of chocolate (preferably dark) per day.
But maybe you’re wondering, “To benefit from the virtues of chocolate, should I eat only dark chocolate? What about white chocolate, cocoa powder or milk chocolate?”.
Know this: cocoa powder and dark chocolate have a high content of flavonoids. Milk chocolate has a lot less. White chocolate does not have any. Because it is made only from cocoa butter. However, as you may have noticed, chocolate flavonoids are largely responsible for its many virtues.
Here you are, now you know about dark chocolate‘s three virtues; and you know how to benefit from it.