Eating chocolate is good for you. So is drinking red wine! Every once in a while, retailers, manufacturers, or just someone who wants to get your attention (yes, like me) comes up with some more good reasons for eating chocolate.
Here are eight of them.
1. It Makes you Feel Good
In my opinion, the main reason why chocolate is good for you is that it tastes nice, and you therefore gain some psychological benefits from the very fact that it makes you feel good.
One study of elderly European men found that those who preferred chocolate had better mental health than those who preferred other types of confectionary. The chocolate preferrers were significantly less likely to be depressed or lonely and much more likely to feel upbeat about the future.
You’ll not reap the psychological benefits of eating chocolate if you’re so busy feeling guilty about eating it that you’re not able to fully enjoy it, so take note of the other 6 benefits, to be sure to get the best feel-good moment from tucking into that extra egg. Make sure it’s a dark chocolate egg though, as it’s dark chocolate full of cocoa that offers the improved health effects form polyphenols, particularly flavanols.
2. Increased Nitric Oxide Production
Chocolate can increase the amount of nitric oxide produced by the endothelium. The endothelium
lines the inside of the arteries. The nitric oxide it produces causes the arteries to expand and thereby facilitate blood flow. Nitric oxide also protects against the formation of blood clots, and protects against the hardening of the walls of the blood vessels. It is the flavanol content in the cocoa in chocolate that stimulates the production of nitric oxide. Flavanols can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as onion, tomato, apple, grape, berries, , kale, broccoli, lettuce and other leafy green vegetables. As a rule, the greener the leaf, the more flavanols.
3. Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular disease
One large study reported that men with high cocoa intake were 50% less likely to die of cardiovascular causes than men with low cocoa intake. Another study reported that the more chocolate an individual consumed, the less chance they had of dying from cardiovascular complications. Individuals who consumed chocolate more than once a week were 66% less likely to die of cardiovascular causes compared to those who never ate chocolate, while those who consumed chocolate less than once a month were 27% less likely to experience cardiovascular mortality.
4. Reduced Blood Pressure
Evidence suggests that consuming chocolate can reduce blood pressure as much as some medications used to reduce blood pressure, and chocolate consumption could reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by 20% and 10% respectively.
5. Reduced Inflammation
A high level of C-reactive protein in the blood (CRP) is a marker of inflammation in the body and an indicator of cardiovascular disease. One study has shown that consumption of dark chocolate was inversely related to the levels of CRP in the blood. Hate to tell you however, that this was only so long as the chocolate consumption was moderate-approx 20ms dark chocolate every 3 days-and that’s not very much. When greater levels were consumed, the association disappeared.
6. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
A study of people in good health with an average age of 34 years reported improved insulin sensitivity in subjects who consumed dark chocolate, compared to those who consumed white chocolate. Insulin sensitivity improved after just 15 days of consuming 100 grams of dark chocolate per day. [100 gms/day-now that’s more like it]. Dark chocolate is polyphenol rich, whilst the white chocolate contained no polyphenols.
7. Boost to Your Brain Power
Evidence suggests that elderly people who consume chocolate have better cognitive function than those who do not. A Norwegian study of 70-74 year olds showed that chocolate intake in the past year was associated with better performance on a number of cognitive tests. The best cognitive performance was achieved with consumption of 10 grams of chocolate per day.
In the human body, the skin provides photoprotection (protection from light) by absorbing the sun’s rays. This results in the production of free radical molecules which can cause damage to skin cells and result in the growth of cancerous cells.
Nutritional intake is one factor affecting skin photoprotection and dietary antioxidants (including flavanols in cocoa) are thought to have a photoprotective effect. It is possible they reduce the sensitivity of skin cells to UV exposure.
One study which compared the effect of UV-exposure on the skin of women who had consumed high and low flavanol cocoa drinks daily prior to UV exposure, reported reduced sunburn and improved skin condition greater blood flow to skin, increased skin density and hydration) amongst women who consumed the high flavanol cocoa drink.
Of course, all of these benefits can be gained by consuming other anti oxidant rich foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, without adding the chocolate, but where would be the fun in that?