Is Chocolate Really Good for You??

Dark chocolate with mint leaf

Gone are the days when I am going to  feel guilty about secretly tucking into  my 2/3 squares of Lindt Orange Dark chocolate every night after dinner!  It sounds like its sweet, rich and delicious taste is actually good for me!

Despite its bad reputation, Scientists have now proved that eating chocolate in small amounts has a number of health benefits. It is linked to making you feel emotionally better and reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes.

The secret behind this research is Cacao, (or cocoa, which is cacao roasted or ground) which is a little bean packed full of healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, contained in chocolate. These are powerful antioxidants, also found in red wine, which help prevent the oxidation of harmful cholesterol.

The only problem is that cacao on its own is bitter and chalky, hence why milk, sugar and butter are added to make it appealing to our taste buds but not so good for our health. This can also dilute the benefits of Cacao as well as adding calories!

Try to stick with healthy chocolate! Choose dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or more.   If you don’t like dark chocolate try one with an added flavour, like orange or caramel! It has also been found that dark chocolate is more filling and it reduces cravings for fatty, sweet and salty foods. It is still suggested that you do not over indulge but eating a small amount each week will allow you to reap the benefits as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Sweet Health Benefits to Eating Chocolate!

Chocolates effects on our hearts – studies have shown that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits in helping to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, therefore reducing risks of heart attacks and strokes. An antioxidant compound called flavonoids are mainly responsible for this as they increase the flexibility of arteries and veins.

Did you know a chocolate bar has 5 times the flavonoids of an apple!

Chocolate can help to reduce stress – studies have now shown that chocolate is good for more than just curing a broken heart! Chocolate contains valeric acid which is a tranquiliser and a relaxant, which therefore makes us feel better. Findings have also shown that the smell of chocolate can slow down brain waves making us feel calmer. Most people find chocolate pleasurable so we release endorphins in the brain, which give us a sense of well-being.

Did you know there is no evidence to suggest that chocolate gives you spots!

Chocolate could boost concentration – findings show that chocolate has a good source of chromium which helps to control blood sugar due to its involvement in making glucose available in the body. It also has a reasonably low glycaemic index so it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. Therefore a bar of dark chocolate could be a good mid afternoon snack to help boost brain power when you really need it!

Chocolate also contains a stimulant called theobromine a caffeine like substance which can make you more alert. This substance doesn’t have the same side effects as caffeine so it won’t give you the jitters that too much caffeine can. Chocolate does contain caffeine but only a very small amount of caffeine compared to a cup of coffee (85mg in a cup of coffee compared to 1mg in 3 squares of chocolate).

Did you know that chocolate can help us to digest milk!

So concluding from all this recent research I think that eating chocolate in small amounts must have some beneficial effects on my overall health! We are all searching for ways to stay healthy and fit and live a long and happy life therefore let’s not deprive ourselves of something that tastes so good and can actually help us to achieve this!

References:

www.medicalnewstoday.com – What are the health benefits of chocolate.

Women’s health magazine – 9 health benefits of chocolate.