Do you have a guilty conscience when turning into the confectionery aisle of a local market? Well it might not be all bad as there is some good in a specific chocolate.
Cocoa beans found in dark chocolate provide powerful health boosting properties.
A higher cocoa mass and cocoa butter content in the chocolate the better it is for your health (at least 70% of cocoa solids).
If you carefully look at the ingredient list you should notice that the first ingredient should be cocoa mass/cocoa butter and not sugar.
The flavour of dark chocolate is not to everyone’s liking especially if your used to white or milk chocolate, if this is the case for you try sprinkling some in a dessert as the the taste will not be as distinct.
Let's have a look at 7 health benefits that my convince you to start eating dark chocolate:
1. Ease stress
Are you feeling stressed? Try some dark chocolate! A study from 2015 has proven that 40g of dark chocolate taken by the participants during a 2 weeks trial reduced urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism .
Also, a Similar study was shown that 50g of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate daily can buffers endocrine stress reactivity at the level of the adrenal gland, suggesting a peripheral stress protective effect of dark chocolate consumption .
Furthermore, another study showed that consuming 40 g of Dark and Milk chocolate daily during a period of 2 weeks appear to be an effective way to reduce perceived stress in females .
2. Reduce caugh
Normally caugh is a protective, primitive reflex in healthy individuals, however when persistent can be debiliating and impair quality of life.
We then take the over the counter medicines which contains i.e. Codeine. However we might take a dark chocolate instead which contains theombromine.
According to Usmani et al studies theombromine found in cocoa is nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent cough when compared with codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine .
3. Lower blood pressure and normalize diabetes' factors
High blood pressure is an improtant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) which leads to about 50% of cardiovascular events worldwide and 37% of cardiovascular related deaths in western populations.
Flavonol-rich cocoa products can increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide which promotes vasodilatation and therefore blood pressure reduction .
Recent data suggest that flavonol-rich chocolate and cocoa products may have a small but statistically significant effect in lowering blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg in the short term .
The study undertaken by Rostami et al (2015) has shown that high polyphenol chocolate can be effective in improving TG levels in hypertensive patients with diabetes and decreasing blood pressure and fasting blood sugar without affecting weight, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance or glycemic control .
Grassi et al has proven that short-term intake of dark chocolate is followed by a statistically significant increase in insulin sensitivity and decrease blood pressure in healthy persons .
4. Reduce a risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
Epidemiological studies suggest that cocoa rich products can reduce the risk of CVD .
Study performed by Flammer et al has shown that dark chocolate induces coronary vasodilatation, improves vascular function, and decreases platelet adhesion 2 hours after consumption.
The instant effect was linked to mechanism of oxidative stress reduction and changes in serum epicatechins levels .
Similar study undertaken by Engler M.B et al also confirmed that dark chocolate can improves endothelial function and increase the epicatechin concentration in healthy adults .
Meta-analysis conducted by Buitrago-Lopez A. et al (2011) has shown that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in CVD and a 29% reduction in stroke compared withe the lowest consumption .
5. Improve mood and cognitive function
Epicatechin, the main flavonoid present in cocoa and chocolate improves various aspects of cognition in animals and humans.
Chocolate also induces positive effects on mood and is often consumed under emotional stress .
choley et al conducted a study to examine the effects of cocoa flavanol ingestion on cognitive performance, anxiety and mental fatigue.
The study confirmed that flavonol-rich cocoa beverages significantly improve cognitive function and reduced mental fatigue relative to placebo group .
Strandberg T.E et al have suggested a link between psychological health and chocolate preference in which elderly man preferring chocolate reported feeling less lonely and depressed and happier that man preferring other types of candy .
Another study performed by Smit et al has demonstrated that the combination of caffeine and theobromine in the proportions found in cacao has psycho-stimulant effects .
6. Improve vision
Field et al observed in their studies that acute cocoa supplementation enhances the visual performance of young adults. Cocoa improved reading of low contrast letters, and detection of motion.
Autors suggested that it might be caused by increased blood flow to the retina and brain .
7. Reduce appetite and regulate energy intake
Massolt and colleagues demonstrated that the smell of chocolate could suppress appetite in humans.
Chocolate eating and smelling both resulted in appetite suppression with no relationship seen between appetite levels and insulin, GLP-1, or CCK levels.
The smell of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) resulted in a satiation response that was inversely correlated with ghrelin levels. As higher levels of ghrelin increase food intake and increase fat mass .
Sorensen L.B and Astrup A. has proven that a dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake compared with milk chocolate .
Golomb et al in their study has found the association between higher chocolate consumption frequency and lower body mass index.
There is no clear explanation for that results, but experimental findings in rats suggest that epicatechin present in cocoa increase mitochondrial biogenesis and capillarity, muscular performance, and lean muscle mass and to reduce weight without changing calories or exercise .
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