What’s in chocolate that is good for us?
- Cacao-Concentrations of >70% are most beneficial
- Flavonoids-antioxidants such as epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins
- Contains Vitamin D
Why should we eat chocolate?
- Promotes heart health– Flavanols may protect the heart by reducing inflammation, clotting, and oxidation, and blood pressure. The flavonoids release nitric oxide, which dilate blood vessels and can reduce risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and reduces cholesterol. Servings of 3-6 times per week show the greatest effect. Studies support that a lower risk of heart attack is correlated with moderate chocolate consumption.
- Reduces chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes– Dark chocolate improves blood sugar by significantly lowering insulin resistance and significantly improving insulin sensitivity. Some studies have shown lower rates of obesity in people who regulatory consume chocolate. What is known as the oligomer-rich fraction of the chocolate is likely most responsible.
- Improves immunity-A study demonstrated that drinking cocoa can improve immunity to viral infections such as influenza.
- May improve tissue oxygenation-Through increasing the ability for oxygen to reach your tissues due to its positive effects on red blood cells
- Improves brain function-Improves neuroplasticity, which could improve memory and cognition. Older-aged people who regularly eat chocolate score better on cognition tests and show less cognitive decline. College students also were shown to have better memory when eating chocolate.
- Boosts your mood-Dark chocolate promotes a sense of calm and contentment, and can improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. One study showed that eating chocolate mindfully, particularly, improved mood.
How can we enhance the effects of chocolate?
- Eat Chocolate as close as possible to its natural raw state-this provides a higher nutritional value as the raw state (cacao) has the most benefits. Dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate.
- Consume Pre-biotics-Our gut bacteria break down and ferment the components in dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds. Eating cocoa with prebiotics may increase the conversion and absorption of anti-inflammatory compounds in your stomach.
- Eat anti-oxidant foods with dark chocolate-Eating dark chocolate with antioxidant rich solid fruits such as pomegranate or acai can promote its positive effects.
Bottom line-Is chocolate really good for you? YES! Moderate amounts of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, high in cacao, is great for your mind, body, and spirit?
Studies in animals suggest that cacao may also have anti-cancer effects. Cacao is currently being studied for its potential anti-cancer effects as well as its potential role in impacting Alzheimer’s disease.
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Nutrients 2017, 9(7), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9070688