Great news for those with a sweet tooth, eating chocolate can be healthy. You can finally indulge in your favourite snack guilt-free. However, there’s a catch!
Well of course, there has to be a catch, for me it’s a good one – ‘that it has to be dark chocolate’ and the higher the cacao percentage the better. And also, it’s healthier if you stick to eating just two to three pieces a day. But apart from that, fill your boots.
It can help you lose weight
Chocolate doesn’t have to be a reason for weight gain believes neuroscientist Will Clower. In his book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, he explains how eating a piece of dark chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after a meal can cut your appetite by an impressive 50 percent. According to Clower, this is because chocolate triggers the hormones that tell your brain “I’m full.” However, remember that this applies to cacao-rich dark chocolate only. Milk chocolate would raise your blood sugar levels and leave you craving the stuff even more.
It gives you brain power
Chocoholics are the smartest people around. Or at least they should be, thanks to the flavanol content of the snack. Teamed with reports that it also helps to improve blood flow to the brain, it appears that dark chocolate makes excellent brain food. So much so, that researchers have even put its properties to the test with Alzheimers patients. In a trial published by Nature Neuroscience, it was discovered that “high-flavanol intervention was found to enhance dentate gyrus (DG) function” – DG being the region of the brain in which “function declines in association with human ageing.” Although the study explains that whilst the flavanols have the potential to perhaps aid those with Alzheimers, it can’t prevent the disease entirely.
It promotes gorgeous skin
Flavonoids are pretty powerful. Without you realising, they get to work on your skin, acting as a filter to harmful UV rays and protecting you against sun damage. That’s not to say you should skimp on the sunscreen – always apply when out in sunlight. What’s more, as we know all too well, dark chocolate is a great stress reliever, which also helps keep the skin young, fresh and fine-line free.
It’s nature’s tastiest medicine
Dark chocolate is an illness-battling all-rounder, with evidence to suggest that it’s high antioxidant content has the potential to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve blood flow. It’s believed that the flavanols found in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium (the lining of the arteries) to produce nitric oxide, which in turn relaxes the arteries and as a result, lowers blood pressure. This relaxing effect may be minimal, but every little helps.
It gives you an energy boost
If you’re trying to drink less coffee but struggle to get through the day without your caffeine hit, dark chocolate could be the answer – there is 43mg of caffeine per every 100g. A recent study from London’s Kingston University also suggests that dark chocolate could be useful for athletes. Thanks to dark chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow (and in turn, carry oxygen to the muscles at a faster rate), those involved within the project were able to cycle further and faster. Skip energy bars and try a little dark chocolate.
It makes you happy – the best reason of all
Science agrees that chocolate makes you happy, and not just because it tastes amazing. There are chemical components within chocolate that make it irresistible, such as phenylethylamine – an organic compound that when released in the body stimulates a similar feeling to that of falling in love. It also acts as an antidepressant when combined with the dopamine that exists naturally in the brain. Along with its theobromine and tryptophan content (other properties of chocolate that promote happiness and stimulate a natural, albeit weak, high in the body); it’s easy to see why chocolate is considered a certified mood booster.