It’s not every day that we hear good news about a delicious foodstuff also happening to be good for us, but when it comes to dark chocolate the latest message is to make it a regular feature of a healthy diet. An increasing number of nutritionists and dieticians are promoting the benefits of a small quantity of dark chocolate being included within a healthy diet; so much so that some even compare it to being as necessary as vitamin supplements to promote overall good health. Not only is dark chocolate a tasty mood enhancer, but it also helps the body in a surprising variety of other ways too. Here’s a run down of the eleven most prominent reasons why dark chocolate should be a part of a healthy diet:
1) Promotes Positive Brain Function
Dark chocolate contains caffeine (about a tenth of a cup of regular coffee) that is a natural stimulant, however it also possesses other compounds that are great for cognitive health and mental positivity. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is central to this as the chemical is the same that is released when falling in love or experiencing similar delightful sensations, releasing natural endorphins that quite simply make us feel happy and content. Dark chocolate also encourages the circulation of blood to the brain and heart, making it good for promoting overall circulatory health.
2) Healthier Skin
Studies have shown that thanks to the stimulant effect it has on the circulatory system, that this also extends to the tiny capillaries that make up the immediate layer of the skin. Often these become weakened or damaged over time but dark chocolate seems to stimulate them in become more efficient at absorbing the vitamins and oxygen that the skin needs to remain wholly healthy. After three months of eating dark chocolate it has been measured that the skin becomes twice as resistant to damaging UV rays, thanks largely to the skin being more resilient to dehydration or moisture loss. This makes dark chocolate an excellent choice for those suffering from naturally dry or flaky skin, with the antioxidant powers encouraging smooth, glossy and strong skin across the body.
3) Naturally Great For The Heart
Not all saturated fats are bad for you, and with it’s high cocoa content dark chocolate falls into the same bracket as other high fat foods such as coconut milk and avocados that actually promote a healthy heart. Around a third of the fats in dark chocolate are converted through the body into oleic acid that not just attacks bad cholesterol (LDL) but also promotes the absorbing of good cholesterols (HDL). Thanks to it’s strengths in encouraging an active circulatory system it also naturally combats vascular inflammation, keeping blood vessels flexible and lessening the likelihood of the arteries becoming clogged. Thanks to the combination of these healthy properties few foods are as good as dark chocolate in helping prevent the onset of heart disease.
4) Packed With Antioxidants
Dark chocolate provides the body with a hearty boost in it’s ability to fight the free radicals that contribute to many serious chronic conditions such as cancer and organ diseases. This is due to it being full of organic compounds that serve as natural antioxidants. Indeed dark chocolate has such a high density of antioxidants such as catechins and polyphenois to name just two, that studies suggest it as being actually superior to better known antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries.
5) Theobromine Encourages A Strong Set Of Teeth
Studies have shown that the naturally occurring theobromine found in dark chocolate is excellent for tooth enamel. This is the opposite of other sweet and sugary foodstuffs that tend to be damaging to the teeth, eventually leading to cavities and cracked enamel. As a mild stimulant theobromine is also thought to be good for helping people with coughs.
6) Helps Reduce Anxiety
Stress is much more than a mental condition, it has physical effects upon the body that can be very destructive – especially the way that it encourages the accumulation of fat around the vital organs. In turn this leads to depression and significantly increases the risk of heart disease and organ failure. Cortisol is the cause of this, yet the good news is that recent studies have shown that those who eat just an ounce of dark chocolate a day for a couple of weeks will see the levels of this damaging hormone drastically reduce. More subjective studies report that their participants felt reduced levels of stress and anxiety after a month regularly consuming a little dark chocolate.
7) Protects From Damaging Sunlight
As already touched upon, the properties within dark chocolate strengthen the skin’s capacity to withstand damaging UV rays. Of course it’s still necessary to take precautions to help the body protect itself, but it has been suggested that dark chocolate doubles the skin’s resistance to damaging sunlight. This is thanks to the high quantity of flavanol within dark chocolate as compared to other varieties, that do not offer the same resistant properties.
8) May Help Address Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Research is still in it’s early stages but recent evidence suggests that the stimulant and mood balancing qualities within dark chocolate may help people suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This is thought to be the case because of the way it stimulates the brain and encourages the production of serotonin and other ‘happy hormones’ that regulate sleep patterns and mood.
9) Excellent Natural Means Of Treating Coughs
The theobromine within dark chocolate helps regulate the vagus nerve that is thought to encourage coughing. Often such conditions are treated with quite powerful medications such as codeine, when it’s now increasingly thought that dark chocolate offers a natural, non drowsy, tasty and effective alternative.
10) Diarrhoea Prevention
Dark chocolate helps to regulate fluids within the small intestine, that if left uncontrolled will often lead to bouts of severe diarrhoea. Cocoa has been used historically for this purpose for a few hundred years, and recent evidence is suggesting that what once thought of as a superstitious practice was in fact rooted in some actual fact.
11) Great For Pregnancies
Not only is dark chocolate a delicious and soothing food but it is also thought that these benefits are passed from mother to child during the course of pregnancy. Moms report that they felt less stressed especially during the later stages of their term, while the children themselves seemed much calmer and more peaceable once they entered the world.
What do you think?