Yes really! You’re about to read the health benefits that chocolate has.
It is common knowledge to many of us that chocolate is branded as “unhealthy” because of its high fat and high sugar content which is linked to unwanted health risks. However, there are argued to be some health benefits.
Lowering blood pressure & cardiovascular levels
Research suggested that cocoa products have small, but significant effects of lowering blood pressure in the short term.
This was also supported by other research cited within Women’s Health which found that in a 9 year Swedish study. One or two servings of chocolate a week reduced the risk of heart failure by as much as a third. They also cited research from Germany that found that a square of chocolate a day lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart failure and stroke by 39%.
This is argued to be as a result of flavonoids, an antioxidant found in cocoa which increases the flexibility of the veins and arteries.
Preventing cognitive decline
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information has found chocolate to reduce the bonding together of amyloid beta. These are amino acids that are found to be a crucial component of Alzheimer’s disease.
In Alzheimer’s patients, amyloid plaques are found to be the main component within the brain. They argue that chocolate may be used as a preventative measure in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The Journal of Proteome reports that chocolate reduces stress.
It was found that chocolate consumption increases the serotonin and endorphin levels within the brain.
Psychology Today also cited some research into the relationship between pregnancy and chocolate. It found that chocolate consumed by mothers-to-be protects the foetus from prenatal stress.
Chocolate was also found to have soothing properties to the foetus once they were born for example causing them to laugh easily and respond well to novelty.
It is important to note that all of these research studies looked into the health benefits of dark chocolate, rather than its lighter siblings.
Dark chocolate is found to provide us with healthier fatty acids and more antioxidants compared to milk and white chocolate.
It has also been found to help us to feel more full after our chocolate consumption.
Although the research studies do outline some health effects of the cocoa and antioxidants that come with chocolate. It is important to outline that in order for chocolate to be made, cocoa has to be mixed with sugars and fats which gives it that “unhealthy” label I mentioned earlier.
Alison Hornby, a dietician and BDA spokesman stated that “this means chocolate is an energy-dense food that could contribute to weight gain and a higher risk of disease. As an occasional treat, chocolate can be part of a healthy diet”.
Therefore, dark chocolate can have some health benefits which allow us to indulge in our favourite sweet snack guilt-free.
However, in order to reduce the health risks associated with high fats and high sugars, it must be consumed in moderation.