Chocolate is a sweet treat that’s often used to quench cravings or satisfy a sweet tooth. However, despite being known for its sugar and high fat content, it turns out that there may be more health benefits to eating chocolate than we may have been aware of. It is even being considered good enough to be a superfood!
Chocolate is from ground cacao and it contains a variety of phytochemicals, which have many medicinal properties. An example is flavanol, which has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Here’s aome of Chocolates great benefits.
Not just any type of chocolate
Though, its been stated to have many wonderful benefits, it is important to remember that not all chocolates are created the same. Dark chocolate contains within it more of the original cacao than milk chocolate. More Cacao means more flavanols and more benefits the chocolate will provide for you. Dark chocolate is also lower in fat and contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate does. Look out for chocolate that’s got at least 70% cacao within it when opting for this sweet treat.
Dark chocolate is also very rich in magnesium which is a very popular mood boosting mineral. It plays a very big role in producing serotonin, which is the brains feel good chemical. It also provides a chemical (phenylethylamine), which can make you feel more alert, with a similar effect found in coffee. The chemical (flavanols and Methylxanthine) which are present in chocolate, have been found to give it the mood enhancing effects and help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing the feeling of calmness and contentedness.
Improve brain function
Research has also found that these flavanols, which gets absorbed when you eat chocolate can aid increased blood flow to the brain and promote formation of new neurons. The benefit of which is improving the function and connection of these neurons. More chocolate can mean better brain function.
Chocolate and exercise
One of the best natural performance enhancers –beet juice is very rich in nitrates. In the body, these nitrates get turned into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and widens blood vessels and also decreases the amount of oxygen your body eats up, so you can exercise further for longer. This causes improved muscle endurance and subsequent muscle activity
Dark chocolate is quite rich in a type of flavanol known as epicatechin, which increases nitric oxide production in the body. Researchers put it to the test and found out that cyclists who ate dark chocolate rich in flavanols used less oxygen and covered more distance within the given time frame than the other non chocolate-eating cyclists.
The new super food?
In addition to being a sweet treat, chocolate has many benefits to overall health. However, as it does contain high levels of fat and sugars, it should be consumed in moderation, especially if you’re in regular training and exercise. Recent studies have found that flavanols in chocolate may lower blood pressure, cholesterol and improve metabolism.
Article written by Gbemi Adedipe, Chartered Physiotherapist at Capital Physio