“After about 20 years of marriage, I’m finally starting to scratch the surface of what women want. And I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate.” – Mel Gibson, American Actor, Producer and Multi Award-Winning Performer
While not bringing along anything of particular insight into this article, Gibson’s quote is no less truthful (or funny). Most people, not only women, love the taste of chocolate. Simply thinking about the number of different products that include chocolate as an ingredient is quite astonishing. These products exist because people appreciate the addition of chocolate flavoring wherever they can find it.
Contrary to popular opinion, chocolate isn’t necessarily unhealthy. Certainly, some candy bars and other chocolate products are laden with sugar and are not a beneficial addition to any diet. That being the case, some specific types of chocolate – especially of the dark variety – do have health benefits that are worth considering.
In fact, the health benefits of consuming chocolate are quite extraordinary. One particular study discovered a link between consuming chocolate and reducing anxiety. Another study discovered that dark chocolate consumption resulted in a decreased appetite; another, a reduction in depressive symptoms. These discoveries alone would be enough for anyone to add a bit of chocolate into their daily diets. However, the benefits of eating chocolate extend beyond these studies.
Here are 6 reasons that we should all have a piece of chocolate everyday:
1. Chocolate enhances your brainpower
Additionally, “math power” and other brain functions are improved by consuming chocolate. According to a study by the U.K’s Northumbria University, subjects that ate chocolate and then waited 90 minutes tested for enhanced mathematical and cognitive aptitude. Experts believe this is due to the antioxidant flavanol, something that’s been shown to expand blood vessels and increase blood flow to the brain.
To achieve such results, it is best to eat chocolates that are dark and bitter, such as baking chocolate and cocoa powder. As a measurement reference, approximately 6 grams of cocoa powder or a 4-ounce chocolate bar with 70 percent cocoa will usually suffice in helping to boost brainpower.
2. Chocolate soothes the gut
Subjects that were tested for high levels of stress hormones were put on a dark chocolate regimen for an indefinite amount of time. However, after just two weeks, samples taken from the patients showed a marked decrease in hormonal levels in the gut related to stress. Particularly, metabolic bacteria in the gut became more active and produced additional healthy bacteria that were then made available to the body. Scientists believe that flavanol and other healthy polyphenols contributed to this noteworthy discovery, which showed chocolate’s positive gut health benefits.
3. Chocolate boosts metabolism
In a more interesting finding, chocolate was discovered to aid in the enhancement of metabolic function. Subjects that ate approximately 10 tablespoons of cocoa powder daily showed a remarkable decrease in insulin levels, followed by a period of weight loss. Flavanol prebiotics are thought to help prevent leaky gut, reduce inflammation, and stimulate metabolic function – three healthy outcomes that are generally indicative of weight loss.
4. Chocolate improves skin health
In one study, women who drank a high-flavanol cocoa drink every day for three months showed a marked increase in blood flow to the epidermis. The results: skin density increased by 16 percent, thickness by 11 percent, moisture by 13 percent, and dryness was reduced by 42 percent! The potent antioxidant and flavanol properties of chocolate are thought to be the primary reasons why skin rejuvenates at such a fast rate.
5. Chocolate increases blood circulation
Scientists tracked the effects of chocolate on cardiovascular health for a period of 10 years, and what they discovered was something of a phenomenon. It is estimated that those who ate chocolate once or twice a week have a 33 percent lower chance of developing heart failure and other cardiovascular conditions. Scientists believe that the powerful antioxidant properties of chocolate enable a type of blood clot barrier that helps in preserving heart health. Once again, it is important to eat the healthier varieties of chocolate: cocoa or dark chocolate that is low in sugar and fat, and high in flavonoids.
6. Chocolate reduces bad cholesterol
People that eat around 3 ounces of dark or high-flavanol chocolate everyday have a more normalized ratio of “good” (HDL) to “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Admittedly, scientists aren’t quite certain why this is, but it is believed that flavonoids play a particularly important role.
In a supplementary study, scientists discovered that dark chocolate helps elderly people with enhanced cognitive function and increased feelings of serenity. As a conclusion, scientists believe that chocolate’s positive effects on cholesterol levels, thinking capacity and feelings of serenity may be a promising solution, both short- and long-term in care of the elderly.