Want to improve your health? Eat chocolate!
Chocolate is often labelled as a cheat food, guilty pleasure, or rich dessert but these categorisations neglect its health benefits. That’s why we’ve come up with 10 unexpected health benefits of eating chocolate.
Obviously chocolate offers fewer health benefits the more it is processed. Therefore, health experts usually recommend eating unsweetened, raw dark chocolate.
But processed chocolate can still give you a superfood boost as long as there aren’t too many additives.
1. High in Antioxidants
First of all, flavanols (naturally-occurring compounds) found in plant foods such as cocoa act as antioxidants and help counteract free radicals in the body.
2. Blood Pressure Benefits
Next, dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with high stress levels or chronically elevated blood pressure.
3. Lower LDL Cholesterol
And eating dark chocolate on a regular basis has been attributed to a reduction in LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol by as much as 10%.
4. Natural Anti-Depressant
Of course, chocolate is also rich in seratonin, which is a natural anti-depressant.
Eating chocolate is also thought to stimulate endorphin production. In turn, this helps to create feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
5. It May Fight Cancer
Chocolate has been found to inhibit cell division and reduce inflammation in some patients and could help reduce cancer risk or cancer severity.
6. Prevents Tooth Decay
Theobromine – a natural component of chocolate – is thought to help prevent tooth decay by eliminating the key culprit: oral cavity bacteria streptococcus mutans.
7. Longer Life
A Dutch study followed 200 men over 20 years and found that those who consumed larger amounts of chocolate lived longer.
Harvard used similar methods and found the same results. Learn more about chocolate’s secrets of longevity here.
8. Less Disease
The same Harvard and Dutch studies have linked chocolate with contracting less diseases and consequential longer lifespans.
9. High in Magnesium
Cacao is extremely high in magnesium, an important mineral that helps to regulate the digestive, neurological, and cardiovascular systems for overall health.
10. Brain Health
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that red wine and dark chocolate can protect the brain following a stroke by shielding nerve cells from further damage.
11. Higher Intelligence
A study at California’s Salk Institute found that epicatechin, a chemical in chocolate, may improve memory.
12. Cough Relief
An ingredient in chocolate may actually be a more effective cough medicine than traditional remedies, a new study suggests.
Not only that, UK-based research found the cocoa-derived compound had none of the side effects associated with standard drug treatments for persistent coughs.
Theobromine, which occurs in high levels in chocolate, has been found to quiet coughs and soothe throats without the traditional side effects of medication.
13. Sun Protection
London researchers found that, after three months of eating chocolate with high levels of flavanols, their subjects’ skin took twice as long to develop reddening associated with the beginning of a burn.
14. Reduced Stress
Swiss scientists found that when people with high anxiety levels ate an ounce-and-a-half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress levels were significantly lower and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated.
15. Diabetes Prevention
Dark chocolate is actually thought to help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
16. Insulin Regulation
Frequent consumers of chocolate have been correlated with higher insulin regulation and response.
17. A Healthier Heart
In a nine-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one to two servings of dark chocolate each week were 33% less likely to experience heart failure.
18. Healthy Fats
Chocolate contains Oleic acid, a healthy monosaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
19. It Improves Vision
Chocolate improves blood flow particularly to the brain and the retina, allowing consumers to experience better short term vision.
20. Improves Blood Flow
Finally, cocoa has anti-clotting and blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, which can improve blood flow and increase circulation.