Posted by: maboulette | March 13, 2017

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate, According to Science


Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is not a guilty pleasure; it really comes with abundant benefits to your health. Real dark chocolate—not the sweetened and processed milk chocolate—is chock-full of health benefits.

60% OR HIGHER IS HEALTHY

Some nutrients are damaged in the process of making chocolate available for the general market. Make sure the chocolate you buy is within the healthy range. Check the label: chocolate with a 60% or higher cocoa content is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Often called bittersweet, it has minimal sugar.

  1. PREVENT DEPRESSION.

One of the components found in dark chocolate is theobromine. Theobromine is anatomically fairly similar to caffeine. Theobromine, when eaten in larger amounts, can cause a dip in blood pressure, excitability and gives energy. This energy is followed by a crash, leading some critics to tout chocolate as an unsafe addictive substance.

Another chemical in chocolate is anandamide. Anandamide is structurally comparable to THC, but nowhere near as effective. Despite this, anandamide can still offer a mood- and energy-boost, without the addiction and cardiovascular damage that comes with other stimulating elements.

Yet another mood-boosting chemical in chocolate is phenethylamine, which is absorbed in your body into serotonin. Serotonin is one of the most important mood-regulating chemicals your body can produce. If you’re deficient in serotonin, supplementing with phenethylamine—even through chocolate—can help bring you back to baseline.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS PREVENT CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE.

Studies on a small-scale have shown that regular intake of cocoa can have a positive effect in fighting cardiovascular disease. A more recent study on cocoa’s cardiovascular benefits, done in 2006, proved this among a larger study group of 470 men, all tested while consuming different daily doses of cocoa. The conclusions were that cocoa does lower the chances and significance of cardiovascular disease.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS PREVENT STROKE.

A study done recently on Norfolk residents finds that chocolate has a huge impact on the likelihood of having a stroke.

The study matched people who frequently consumed chocolate with those who entirely refrained. It was done on a huge scale, involving 20,951 adults. They measured chocolate intake at the start of the study and tracked the people for decades, following their cardiovascular statistics.

The problem with studies done like is that the results don’t conclusively link chocolate and lower incidence of stroke. Perhaps heavy chocolate consumers share similar habits that also reduce stroke. This study also found links between those who ate more chocolate and just having healthier habits in general than the other study group.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES LDL CHOLESTEROL AND RAISE HDL CHOLESTEROL.

Artherogenesis, caused by low-quality lipids being oxidized, is a degenerative condition of the arteries. Chocolate has been shown to prevent the oxidization of LDL cholesterol, which is one of the greatest contributors to artherogenesis.

So, when LDL cholesterol is oxidized, the LDL itself becomes reactive. This means it can damage your organs and your arteries and eventually cause cancer. It’s also effective at increasing the total amount of HDL cholesterol, the good kind.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE LOWERS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE.

Another benefit of chocolate’s amazing medicinal profile—it can lower your blood pressure. Chocolate can be a cheaper and more enjoyable way of lowering blood pressure than medical options.

A recent study done at Harvard looked at 24 studies done on chocolate in the past. Over 1,000 people were involved in these studies which collectively concluded that dark chocolate—between 50 and 70 percent cocoa—lowered the blood pressure of all participants.

The benefits were greater in those who already suffered from hypertension. This suggests that the flavonols responsible are more effective when blood pressure is high.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS CONTROL YOUR COUGH. 

One of the chemicals in cocoa, theobromine, is known to antagonize the activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a part of your brain, and its activation can trigger coughing fits. Scientists are looking into creating medication for coughs that uses theobromine.

A study on chocolate’s effects as a cough-suppressant found it to be more effective than common cold medicines, even one containing codeine, a weak narcotic.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS IN PREGNANCY. 

Recent studies have shown that chocolate improves fetal growth. Some mothers may be at risk for preeclampsia, when the blood supply to the fetus is cut off or restricted. This occurs due to high blood pressure, which is natural during pregnancy. 

A study shows that regular chocolate consumption can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTION.

Only lately has chocolate been studied for its benefits to human cognition.

This study delves into the cognitive benefits of chocolate consumption. High intake of high-quality chocolate enabled improvements of cognitive processing, visual-spatial awareness, abstract reasoning, scanning, working memory, and improved Global Composite scores.

A study done by British psychologists shows that the flavonols in chocolate specifically help people with their mental math. During the study, people were tested counting backward on a randomly generated number test before and after drinking a cup of hot cocoa. This means gorging on chocolate before your exam could be a good idea.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE IS A HUGE SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS.

Dark chocolate contains very high amounts of a number of potent antioxidants. A study calculated the Relative Antioxidant Capacity Index (RACI) by isolating free radicals and antioxidants extracted from chocolate. Free radicals are the prerequisite for cancer, and antioxidants can help destroy free radicals before they spread.

Chocolate has a huge number of biologically active compounds with antioxidant activity. It’s filled with polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins and even theobromine (the compound touted to have antidepressant effects) acts as an antioxidant.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE PROTECTS YOUR SKIN FROM THE SUN.

Dark chocolate has been known to prevent damage from ultraviolet rays, the light emitted by the sun.  The most effective way to reap this effect would be to eat straight cocoa beans. These are often available at health food stores.

If you can’t use raw cocoa, high-quality dark chocolate will still suffice. The flavonols in 85% dark chocolate are enough to have an effect.

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE IS VERY NUTRITIOUS.

Besides all those antioxidants, dark chocolate is jam-packed full of dietary minerals and vitamins. In half a cup of pure cocoa (this is quite a bit, mind you), you’ll get the following nutrients:

  • Riboflavin, 6% of your daily value
  • Niacin, 4% of your daily value
  • Calcium, 5% of your daily value
  • Iron, 33% of your daily value
  • Magnesium, 53% of your daily value
  • Phosphorous, 30% of your daily value
  • Zinc, 40% of your daily value
  • Copper, 80% of your daily value
  • Manganese, 83% of your daily value
  • Omega-6 fatty acids—378mg
  • Caffeine, 99 mg
  • Theobromine, 880 mg
  1. DARK CHOCOLATE PROMOTES RED BLOOD CELL DISTRIBUTION.

This study showed that dark chocolate aids in the distribution of red blood cells. Evidence over the last couple of decades has shown that regular consumption of dark chocolate can improve the red blood cell distribution width. RDW is a reliable way to measure or predict cardiovascular disease.

Using RDW as a measure, regular intake of chocolate high in flavonols and polyphenols raises RDW significantly enough to reduce the risk of a large number of cardiovascular diseases. Part of the reason chocolate helps improve RDW is because of its high iron content. 

  1. DARK CHOCOLATE BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

Dark chocolate’s potent antioxidant content—along with some of the other mechanisms of nutrients—makes it a treat for your immune system. Cocoa can modulate the inflammatory response of your immune system. Inflammation is tissue’s response to pathogens, chemicals, wounding, or infections. Flavonoids are generally associated with anti-inflammatory properties, and chocolate is filled with them.

Cocoa can have a beneficial effect on certain cells that produce antibodies. Antibodies help your body battle bacteria and disease, so regular consumption of chocolate might even save you from getting malaria someday.

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