For this Cloud Nine, lets talk about the Health Benefits of Chocolate.
Well, Remus Lupin was right, chocolate can be good for you after all! It turns out chocolate does indeed have some legitimate health benefits. As long as you stick with a dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao (or cocoa which is roasted and ground from the cacao bean) and limit your intake to small doses you can reap these benefits.
1. Reduces Stress
Thanks to some Swiss scientists we have research that backs it up. The individuals that took part in the Swiss study ate about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for 2 weeks. At the end of the 2 weeks doctors took samples from the participants and tested their cortisol and catecholamine (aka the stress hormones) levels. Then compared those results to the levels the participants tested at when the study began finding that the levels of both hormones had decreased.
2. Heart Health
This is where the higher concentration of cacao comes into play. Less “pure” chocolate has sugar, butter, and milk added which taste wonderful, but adds fat. Staying with a dark chocolate with a higher cacao percentage means you get the antioxidants and flavonoids the cacao provide. These nutrients help increase the flexibility of veins and arteries which is excellent for circulation and can improve your blood pressure.
3. Diabetes Prevention
I know it sounds crazy…candy to fight diabetes…yeah right! But it’s true. A study in Italy showed that participants who ate about 3 ounces of dark chocolate each day over the course of 15 days had their insulin resistance (a risk for diabetes) drop significantly. You may wonder how this works. Well those flavonoids I mentioned earlier also increase nitric oxide production which helps control insulin sensitivity.
4. Brain Power
Looks like chocolates rich in flavanol, an antioxidant found in many plant-based products, can not only boost alertness and performance in the short term, as one study shows, but it can also have long term effects. Other researcher have found that people who consumed chocolates, wines, and teas that are rich in flavanols got better results on cognitive tests than those that did not.
For our fourth F3 (food, fitness, fashion) episode, Hadas made Chocolate Chip Cookies using flax. Combine her recipe with some dark chocolate chips for a cookie with a nutritional boost.
5. Cough Relief
Dark chocolate can relieve a cough without the unwanted side effects of OTC remedies or codeine and has been proven to be more effective. Researchers in Europe have shown that theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in the cacao and other plants, is 33% more effective than codeine as a cough suppressant. About 2 ounces of cocoa-rich dark chocolate contain enough theobromine to suppress a cough for about 4 hours. However considering the calories that would add up to over the course of a cold I wouldn’t make it my go to cough remedy, but I would absolutely use it for those occasions when I don’t want to be bothered by the side effects of traditional cough medicines.
So which of these benefits of chocolate did YOU find most interesting?