While it’s unlikely your doctor will be prescribing you chocolate anytime soon, science has found a lot of health benefits associated with dark chocolate. This is perhaps our favorite science. Read on to learn why research says dark chocolate is good for you. Dark chocolate’s health benefits come primarily from three compounds in the cocoa
bean: flavonoids (a type of polyphenol), methylxanthine compounds (caffeine and theobromine), and minerals (like iron and zinc).
The majority of current science focuses on flavonoids. The flavonoids in cocoa beans make up up to 18 percent of the dry weight of the beans; however, by the time the cocoa is turned into chocolate, up to 90 percent of those flavonoids have been lost!
You can reap these four benefits of dark chocolate by choosing chocolate with the highest cocoa content.
1. For Your Heart
Flavonoids in cocoa work their magic by activating the nitric oxide system in your body. Blood vessels are relaxed (vasodilation, if you want the technical term) and blood flow is improved by NO production. Lower blood pressure means improved blood flow.
2. For Your Brain
Recent chocolate research has focused on the brain and the central nervous system. Cocoa’s flavonoid content increases the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow to the brain and heart. The increased flow of blood to the brain (especially the gray matter) stimulates the development of new blood vessels and nerve cells.
Studies have also shown that flavonoids and methylxanthines contribute to long-term memory formation, synaptic function, and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Keep an eye out for updated research since many of these results are preliminary. Despite our aversion to dark chocolate, we’re willing to eat it for a promise like this.
3. Improvement of Insulin Sensitivity
There has been a lot of research on cocoa flavonoids’ ability to improve insulin sensitivity, and a review in 2017 found that this promise is real. Among the cocoa flavonoids and other polyphenols, cocoa stimulates the release of insulin and encourages the liver to produce glucose. Research shows that sustained dark chocolate consumption over time has stronger impacts than single doses. There is still a lot of research to be done, but we can’t help but be excited about the potential of helping to
4. To boost your mood, maybe
It is possible that research on dark chocolate’s effects on our mood is the most controversial. According to a couple studies, eating chocolates at home improves someone’s mood in the short-term, but then who wouldn’t be cheered up a little by eating something delicious?
We can smile for a short time when we eat chocolate, but our biology doesn’t work that way-we just like chocolate and things we like make us happy. There is also evidence that flavonoids and methylxanthine compounds affect cognitive performance, anxiety, and fatigue. However long-term the science may prove this, we’re content with even a little happiness earned from eating enjoyable food.
Avoid throwing out your diabetes, heart, or other medications in favor of chocolate. It is difficult to determine exactly how much flavonoids you’re getting from chocolate due to its processing, as we mentioned. Furthermore, fresh produce, tea, and other sources offer the same healthful compounds.
Chocolate generally contains a high amount of sugar, fat, and calories, which may be detrimental to your weight. As well as acne, heartburn, and reflux, chocolate is considered to be detrimental for other conditions as well. In order to get the most benefit from flavonoids in chocolate, choose dark chocolate with the highest cacao percentage that you enjoy.