Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of notable health benefits associated with chocolate, especially dark chocolate, with a high percentage of cocoa. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. It encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins, which is one of the many reasons why a healthy dose of chocolate may do you some good.
Dark chocolate treats
The flavonols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide, which is responsible for sending signals to the arteries to relax. This lowers resistance to blood flow and in turn reduces blood pressure.
Cocoa may also significantly reduce memory loss and improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. The anti-inflammatory qualities of dark chocolate have been found beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion. Moreover, it improves verbal fluency and contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term.
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
Scientific studies have found that dark chocolate helps to restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. These are both common causes of artery clogging.
Moreover, consumption of cocoa has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chocolate can help you lose weight. A small chocolate square consumed 20 minutes before a meal may trigger the hormones in the brain which tell you you’re full, indirectly cutting down the amount of food you subsequently consume. And instead of cutting sweets and sugary foods completely from your diet, a small amount of dark chocolate each day can actually prevent you from reaching for something higher in sugar and lower in nutritional value.
It is also no surprise that eating small amounts of chocolate every day can help you relax. Stress triggers weight gain because it causes your cortisol levels to rise, increasing your appetite. This results in overeating. If you can manage your stress levels, you can better control what you are putting into your body.
A final note
There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits. However, this doesn’t mean people should be consuming lots of chocolate every day. Remember to eat in moderation as chocolate is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on.