What’s even better, you get to reap the many benefits that come with its consumption. And that applies to people with heart problems too. Recent research initiated by scientists, has identified many health benefits of dark chocolate.
Chocolate is made with cocoa, which is rich in flavonoids, compounds that are packed with health benefits. So the bottom line is – the more the cocoa, the more the flavonoids, and more the benefits. Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk or white chocolate.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
Reduces The Blood Pressure:
Cocoa’s flavonoids are known to lower blood pressure. Research has shown that cocoa consumption reduces blood pressure by as an average of 5/2 mm Hg. Cocoa in chocolate reduces the risks of blood clots, which means people who consume chocolate regularly may have a reduced risk of suffering from heart disease. Researchers at University of California (San Francisco) found that individuals who consumed chocolates with a high flavonoid content every day for two weeks showed healthier blood vessel functioning compared to individuals who had chocolate from which flavonoids had been extracted. A compound called epicatechin (a type of flavonoid present in cocoa) possibly triggered the release of active substances that led to the observed increase in blood flow.
Slows Down Aging:
Consumption of chocolate slows down aging. Chocolate contains antioxidants. A study conducted by Kirschbaum and co workers showed that when compared to individuals who were eating imitation chocolates (made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter), those eating chocolates containing at least 40 percent cocoa, had a higher average lifespan due to the presence of polyphenol and flavonoid antioxidants.
Boost Your Mood:
If PMS is wearing you down, you know help is at hand – chocolates, whatever be the kind, are known to help with mood swings and PMS symptoms. A compound called phenylethylamine in chocolate is responsible for this effect. Additionally, PMS is typically associated with a decline in a ‘feel-good’ chemical called serotonin, which explains why your body consciously seeks out sugary foods like chocolate right before your period.
Cocoa also contains flavanols, naturally occurring nutrients that improve cerebral blood vessel function. Results from a study conducted at the University of Nottingham Medical School show that flavanol-rich cocoa can help boost brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain. This effect might also help to delay the loss of brain function associated with aging.
Helps In Metabolism:
Flavonoids also increase sugar metabolism in your body and may help you reduce your risk of diabetes. A group of Italian scientists tested 15 people with blood pressure in the normal range, and asked them to have 100 grams of chocolate a day for 15 days. Not only did this diet result in a drop in their blood pressure, insulin functioning also improved in these volunteers. These results are reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So the next time you find yourself in the candy aisle at the supermarket, make sure you pick chocolate that has at least 60 percent cocoa in it.
But Remember, if you’re a heart patient, remember to balance out the chocolate calories with other nutrient-rich foods, and pay close attention to your daily total calorie consumption.