Health Reasons to Give in to Your Chocolate Cravings
By Chris Brown
Chocolate is so tasty it nearly requires a 12-step program for those chocolate-obsessed enough to label themselves chocoholics. Most foods are either tasty or healthy, but chocolate may just be the one exception that is both. The health benefits of this sweet, first cultivated in the Amazon jungle, range from mental acuity to physical longevity and superhuman stamina. These physical enhancements seem to make the argument that none of us needed, to eat more chocolate.
Health Benefits of Chocolaty Goodness
Most of chocolate's health benefits come from the fact that it is rich in two key ingredients: flavanols and epicatechin. Chocolate also comes packed with the minerals iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. These all combine to deliver an array of health attributes from the treat.
- Supports a healthy heart - Chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the potential for developing blood clots, which is likely a result of its high antioxidant level.
- Calms the immune system and prevents oxidation - Oxidative stress resulting from over-reactionary immune cells is the primary cause of many diseases, including cancer. The flavanols in chocolate help maintain immune system consistency and prevent harmful oxidative immune explosions.
- Makes your brain work smarter and remember more - Chocolate's flavanols also benefit memory and cognition, as supported by a 2018 research study that found high chocolate doses (48 grams of 70 percent cacao) significantly increased neuroplasticity (important for learning and memory formation).
- Lets you exercise harder and longer - Athletes studied required less oxygen (thus increasing stamina and performance) after consuming chocolates. This is due to chocolate's epicatechin content, which increases nitric acid levels in the blood.
- Makes you calmer and improves mood - Research has shown that chocolate stimulates the reward centers of the brain to reduce stress and improve mood.
- Helps with weight maintenance - Counterintuitively, indulging in the occasional chocolate treat can actually improve your likelihood of diet success and reduce sweet cravings according to a 2014 study of women dieters. It also has been shown to increase good gut bacteria, which improves digestive efficiency.
Not All Chocolate Bars Are Created Equal
While there are plenty of health benefits of chocolate, there are negatives to consuming tons with every meal, especially if the chocolate is of the sugary, lighter variety. Healthier dark chocolates range from 50-90 percent cocoa. Basically, the more chocolate in your bar, the better it is for you. Verify the bar's chocolate percentage on its label before purchasing, but be prepared for a more bitter, less sugary taste with higher cocoa chocolates. It seems you can have your cake and eat it too with health and taste, as long as that cake is dark chocolate.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Cleveland, Tenn.