Chocolate won’t be going out of fashion anytime soon, in fact the use of chocolate dates back as far as 1900 BC. It’s clear that people like chocolate. But what if we were wrong about it being bad for us? What if chocolate could actually be good for you?
Here is what the experts have to say on the matter
- Good Chocolate Is Packed With Antioxidants
You might have already heard that chocolate is high in antioxidants. But what does this actually mean for you?
Well, antioxidants are a group of natural food chemicals such as flavanols, polyphenols and catechins that fight free radicals in our body.
Free radicals cause oxidation and inflammation, which contribute toward aging processes, chronic disease and even cancer.
Therefore, antioxidants can have a therapeutic action by disarming free-radicals and their associated health issues.
The raw, unprocessed seeds from the cocoa tree are thought to be one of the highest food sources of antioxidants. However, it is important to note that the antioxidant component is located in the non-fat part of the cacao beans, not the cacao fat or ‘cacao butter’, as it’s also called.
Hence, cacao powder and good-quality dark chocolate are the best, highest-antioxidant forms of chocolate to eat. Dairy milk and white chocolate (which are higher in fat) contain far less antioxidants by comparison.
- Cacao Contains Some Surprising Nutrients!
Cacao contains a surprisingly high number of nutrients and minerals, including:
- Soluble fibre
- And even iron!
Furthermore, unprocessed cacao contains almost 400 polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) and is reputed to have more phenolics than red wine or green tea. Not a bad nutritional profile for a ‘treat food’, right?
- Chocolate Might Improve Your Brain Health
Many of the healthful components in cacao are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Flavonoids and resveratrol are neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory, meaning that they may play a role in reducing inflammation within the Central Nervous System.
While this research is still in its infancy, and the mental may also be attributed to the stimulatory theobromine and caffeine in cacao, it is a biologically plausible claim.
- Chocolate May Be Good For Blood Pressure
Now this is news to get your blood pumping. It appears that chocolate may help to keep our blood pressure down!
Some experts explain that the flavanols in chocolate interact with the endothelium that lines our arteries, causing cells to produce nitric oxide.
Although ‘nitric oxide’ might sound like a scary word, it’s actually very good news for our cardiovascular health. This natural gas helps the arteries to relax, which then relieves the resistance to blood flow and helps to lower our overall blood pressure.
Unfortunately, early trials indicate that eating chocolate alone is only likely to have a mild impact on your blood pressure, at best. However, as part of an overall diet and lifestyle strategy, it seems that a little bit of dark chocolate may have a place in maintaining good heart health.
- Eating Chocolate Makes You Feel Oh SO GOOD
You may have heard that chocolate can be a ‘mood-enhancer’ and ‘romance-inducer’. This is because chocolate is a source of ‘phenylethylamine’. This fantastic chemical arouses all those feel-good endorphins that make the world suddenly seem like an even bigger, brighter, better place. It also impersonates the sensation of falling in love within your brain, and might even boost serotonin production. That’s something to smile about!
What Is Your Favourite Way To Enjoy Chocolate Healthfully?