Chocolate has a reputation as a sinful treat, but it’s not as unhealthy as it sounds. Medical practitioners have used it for centuries to treat ailments such as gout, fatigue, tuberculosis and breathing issues. Recent research demonstrates the health benefits of chocolate; below are nine reasons why it’s perfectly OK to indulge your sweet tooth with some delicious chocolate morsels.
- It decreases blood pressure.
Clotting is reduced and blood pressure is normalized by the flavonoids in cocoa. German researchers discovered that consumption of pure cocoa lowered blood pressure by an average of 4.7/2.8 mmHg, and the NY Times showed that dark chocolate is almost as good at reducing blood pressure as some of the most commonly prescribed drugs.
- It improves blood flow to the brain.
A researcher from the University of Nottingham discovered that drinking a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink could improve blood flow to important parts of the brain for up to three hours after consumption. Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols, and the same study suggested that those flavanols could fight the effects of fatigue, sleep deprivation and aging.
- It elevates the mood.
According to an MSNBC report, chemicals in dark chocolate can ease PMS symptoms and boost your general mood. In fact, the phenylethylamine in chocolate can trigger the same pleasurable feelings as falling in love!
- Chocolate prevents damage to cells and it can normalize blood sugar levels.
The flavanols in dark chocolate offer these benefits.
- It can reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can reduce your risk of death from heart attack by up to 50%.
- Chocolate can ease the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Studies show that adults who ate 1.5 oz of 85% cocoa dark chocolate felt less fatigued after consumption.
- It raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.
A study from Penn State University found that cocoa powder-rich diets were typically lower in bad cholesterol than diets low in flavanols.
- It improves the body’s processing of sugar.
A study from Italy found that eating dark chocolate improves the body’s natural metabolism of sugar, and may even help to reduce diabetic risk.
- It can ease persistent coughs.
Theobromine, which is found in cocoa, may be a more effective cough remedy than some standard pharmaceutical treatments. Research shows that theobromine acts upon the vagus nerve’s endings, which run though the lungs’ airways and into the brain.
Despite the many benefits of eating chocolate, it’s important to remember that many chocolates can be high in saturated fat, sugar and calories. To maximize your health benefits, choose dark chocolates over those containing a high percentage of milk fat and refined sugars. The more pure the dark chocolate, the higher the flavonoid content–and the more benefits you’ll get. When choosing a dark chocolate, pick one that contains at least 60% cocoa for the best (and tastiest) results. Happy eating!
This article is a guest post written by Lauren R, a food blogger and lover of posh chocolates. Read more from her here.