We so love giving good news, and it’s true that in moderation dark chocolate can be an ally in good health. As with anything not all chocolate is created equal, but dark chocolate contains 70% or more cocoa, and that’s what you want to be on the lookout for. The benefits to your health may surprise you! Talk about good timing, with Valentine’s Day and Easter around the corner.
Naturally, you needn’t simply take our word for it. Here are a few of the reasons that chocolate is an OK indulgence in your daily routine – other than being delicious.
- Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants:
You hear about them all the time, but what are they? That conversation begins with a look at free radicals, which contribute both positively and negatively to the body unless managed.
The body produces free radicals naturally – they lend to the aging process of skin, organs, and general bodily functionality, but also weigh in on keeping our immune system healthy. Free radicals are generated in reaction to the environment around us, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. It’s here that antioxidants come into play.
Antioxidants balance out free radicals. When paired, antioxidants have the power to work against the aging effects of free radicals, by attaching to them in lieu of your healthy cells. This keeps your healthy cells intact, and powers the free radicals in an alternative way. In a chocolate-covered nutshell, eating chocolate supplies your body with a healthy dose of antioxidants. Just remember that we’re talking about the right kind of chocolate.
- Happy hearts and happy brains! That’s right, improved heart and brain health:
Plant-derived nutrients are the name of the game, in this case. Cocoa is home to such nutrients, including flavanols, which are the primary flavonoid (compounds yielded by plants) in dark chocolate. This nutrient is associated with cardiovascular and neurological health, and lowers the likelihood of blood clots and stroke.
Some nutrients might call it a day there, but flavanols also improve brain function and memory. Eating a controlled amount of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to the cerebral gray matter, and has been suggested to be beneficial in conditions such as dementia and stroke for this reason.
- Worried about Cholesterol? Eat chocolate:
The cherry on the chocolate cake, cocoa is a great ally in the battle against cholesterol. It’s been shown to lower the bad stuff (LDL) and increase the good stuff (HDL), and has even shown promising results in reducing inflammation. Truly a full suite of health benefits when you consider the implications on the brain and the heart as well.
It’s one of those weeks where gifting chocolate is commonplace, and it’s safe to say that nobody should be giving up that that sweet, dark chocolate any time soon. If you’re planning on gifting that special someone, or yourself, some chocolate this Valentine’s Day, remember to be mindful of what you’re buying and whether it’s got 70% or more cocoa. The recipient’s health will thank you!