Chocolate just became more fantastic. Yes, we know, at My Chocolate Box, we only believe the best about chocolate, but this time we have science on our side. Now, we have to be realistic; it’s not just any kind of chocolate that’s good for you. It’s the dark chocolate, but not any dark chocolate either.
Always look for chocolate that contains 70% or more cocoa and look at the label; cocoa or cocoa mass must be first on the ingredient list. Also, avoid alkalised or Dutch-processed cocoa; they’re low in flavanols. Be sure to check the sugar content of the chocolate; sugar can reverse chocolate’s health benefits. Don’t just opt for the sugar-free option either – sweeteners can be harmful.
As with anything in life, you have to practice moderation so you should stick to about 40-45 grams; the great news is you should eat it regularly (2-3 times per week). Studies are inconsistent regarding frequency; some say twice a week while others say a square every day. Although, we’d like to follow the “everyday option”, but as with everything in life, certain studies have found that too much chocolate can lead to bone density issues and obesity.
So, what are chocolate’s health benefits?
Chocolate and your heart
By eating chocolate regularly, you can reduce your risk of having a heart attack and a stroke. This is due to the theobromine, a blood vessel widener, in chocolate. In fact, it can reduce heart problems with up to a third. In addition, the plant sterols and flavanols found in chocolate fight bad cholesterol (bad fats), which helps your cardiovascular health and blood pressure.
Chocolate and your brain
A Harvard study found that by increasing your chocolate intake, you speed up the blood flow to your middle cerebral arteries (your brain). This is important as different areas of your brain need more blood to complete tasks than others, and by getting more blood, you’ll be better equipped to fight Alzheimer’s disease. What this also points to is that you can improve your memory by indulging in these delights.
Chocolate and your skin
Not only can dark chocolate help you lose weight (YAY!) but it can also improve your skin. Chocolate that’s high in flavanols can protect your skin against UV rays (you still need sun lotion though) and increase your skin’s density and keep your skin hydrated, leaving you radiant.
Chocolate and your mood
When you stress, cortisol (aka the stress hormone) has a ball in your body and leaves you in a pickle. However, by eating chocolate, you can reduce your stress hormone levels as well as their metabolic effect on your body. Chocolate also contains tryptophan that aids your body’s serotonin production, which acts as a stress-shield.
Chocolate and your life
Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at the age of 121, claimed she ate 1.1 kg of chocolate every week, which added to her long life. A Harvard study supports this to some extent; they found that by eating chocolate regularly, you can add about two years to your life expectancy. (We have no idea how they tested that.)
Chocolate and your children
If you’re expecting, you need to start munching on dark chocolate today! A study completed 2015/16 found that chocolate can assist with foetal development and growth. In addition, chocolate-eating mothers reported that they could handle stress better than those who denied themselves the pleasure. And, a Finish study proved that these babies smiled more and were happier.
Although numerous chocolate health benefit research studies have been completed and their results are in favour of chocolate such as fighting cancer, these are mainly once-off studies, and we need more for conclusive results.
This blog is for information purposes only. Consult your doctor before attempting any dietary changes.