If you like chocolate, you probably don’t need a reason to eat it every day, but if you do, I have some good news for you: dark chocolate with a high cocoa content may [and should] be adopted as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Here are 5 of the main benefits of dark chocolate and the best methods to utilize it to throw some light on why it should be considered as less of a “indulgence” and more of a daily need to increase your overall wellness.
Boosting your immunity
We don’t frequently hear the terms “immunity” and “chocolate” in the same phrase, and that’s because most daily chocolate contains saturated fats and sugars, which are the same “anti-nutrients” that a robust immune system requires.
However, by choosing dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao, you may benefit from the immune-boosting properties of cacao beans, which have been ingested by humans for over 3,000 years and have been proved to enhance our immune system’s defenses and increase our body’s tolerance. They may also boost blood flow, gastrointestinal health, and stress relief, all of which have the potential to indirectly strengthen our immune system by increasing T-cell activation and cellular immunological responses.
It’s a great source of antioxidants.
Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, flavones, which are all beneficial chemicals. Dark chocolate, in fact, is considered to have more of these components than other’ super foods’ like blueberries, acai berries, and cranberries.
Antioxidants are crucial because they protect cells and tissues against free radical damage, which is caused by unstable chemicals that change and weaken cells. Not only can dark chocolate’s incredible antioxidant properties help fight DNA mutilation, which causes ageing symptoms like greying hair and wrinkles, but they can also potentially extend cancer protection by reducing cell damage, improve brain function, and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Dark chocolate contains cacao, which stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, which are also generated after exercise and help to reduce stress and give us an overall feeling of well-being. Dark chocolate and cacao also include tryptophan, an amino acid that your brain utilizes to make serotonin, a feel-good chemical that regulates your mood and is known as the ‘natural mood stabilizer’ because it helps to lessen melancholy and anxiety.
The quantity of cacao in chocolate affects serotonin levels, therefore the darker the chocolate, the better. If you eat low-quality chocolate, the sugar and additional nastiness will make your body need more, which may transform enjoyment into guilt and self-punishment. It’s crucial to remember that less is more, and to buy the highest-quality chocolate possible. Another important molecule that influences your mood is tyramine, which is generated from the amino acid tyrosine. Higher tyrosine levels lead to increased dopamine, which stimulates the reward and pleasure centers of your brain, affecting your behavior and keeping you returning to what makes you happy.
Health of the muscles and nerves
Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which supports muscle and nerve function, as well as 98 percent of our daily potassium need, which assists in the replenishment of lost electrolytes. Dark chocolate’s polyphenols, which are high in antioxidants, may help the body produce more nitric oxide, a molecule that allows blood vessels to expand and blood to flow more freely, enabling you to exercise harder for longer.
Epicatechin, present in cocoa flavones, promotes healthy blood flow and ensures that your important organs and muscles get the oxygen and nutrients they need to function optimally. Furthermore, a research published in Sports Medicine discovered that caffeine improves strength and endurance, and that combining caffeine with carbohydrates [a combination present in chocolate] might aid muscle recovery after a hard exercise.
Increased mental capacity
If you need to concentrate and have an important exam or meeting, a research conducted by the University of Nottingham discovered that consuming dark chocolate for two to three hours may offer your brain a short-term boost and raise your attentiveness. A 2011 research of young people demonstrated that memory and response speed were improved two hours after eating dark chocolate with high flavone concentration compared to white chocolate with low flavone content.
What to do with it
To properly appreciate the advantages of dark chocolate as part of a nutritionally balanced lifestyle, keep in mind that not all dark chocolate is created equal. A larger proportion of cacao is ideal when deciding which kind to consume — the more cacao, the more good nutrients and the less sugar and other possibly harmful elements. Dark chocolate may be enjoyed in a variety of ways, and you don’t have to eat it straight. It may also be melted with hot water to make a smooth, relaxing drink, or used to baking or breakfast, or anything else that calls for a rich chocolate flavor.
While it may seem too good to be true to eat chocolate every day, there are several reasons why dark chocolate is an essential part of any diet. Enjoy it as part of a healthy diet and fitness routine to get the numerous benefits and delectable flavor that no other super food can match.