BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE - YUMMY!
Chocolate is a delicious substance that was consumed as a “nectar of the gods” in Mayan ceremonies for its supposedly sacred properties. Centuries later, chocolate lovers continue to celebrate the treat for its tempting taste and its melt-in-your-mouth texture. Yet aside from its sensory appeal, dark chocolate
is also becoming lauded for its health benefits. Here are the top 5 health benefits of dark chocolate.
RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Dark chocolate contains a type of antioxidant known as flavonols
. Like all anitoxidants, flavonols can protect against the formation of free-radicals, which can lead to inflammation in the body and accelerate the process of aging. The anti-inflammatory properties of flavonols are best known for their effects on blood vessels. Through dilating blood vessels in our bodies, flavonols in dark chocolate may lead to lower blood pressure
PROTECTS HEART HEALTH
The blood pressure-lowering effects of flavonols may also improve heart health. In addition to lowering blood pressure, dark chocolate has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol
(bad cholesterol) and to increase HDL cholesterol
(good cholesterol). Collectively, these effects may contribute to the decreased risk of heart disease that is seen in observational studies
of individuals who consume dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate doesn’t just protect our bodies. It also enhances the functioning of our minds. Research
shows that consumption of dark chocolate may aid in promoting alertness and concentration. These effects on cognition may be caused by the active chemical compound in chocolate, theobromine
. This chemical speeds up both our heart rates and enhances our attention to a task at hand, but is less stimulating than caffeine.
Chocolate keeps you alert
Perhaps the greatest benefit of chocolate is that it simply makes us happy. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine
(PEA), which is known to release endorphins
in our brains. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals whose release can be found in other pleasurable activities, such as aerobic exercise and sex. Additionally, chocolate stimulates the release of serotonin
, a mood-lifting neurotransmitter that is often found to be low in individuals with depression.
STIMULATES SEXUAL AROUSAL
For those who experience a lack of libido or who simply want to enhance a romantic evening with their partner, dark chocolate may be a way to enhance the experience. Chocolate has been used since its Aztec origins as an aphrodisiac
. The arousing properties of dark chocolate may occur because of the appeal of its silky-smooth texture
. Aside from its aesthetic value, dark chocolate consumption can also trigger the release of oxytocin
, which is the pair-bonding neurotransmitter that is associated with building intimate relationships.
These powerful health benefits of dark chocolate are a wonderful excuse to buy a bar. However, before stocking your shelves, it is important to understand that many of these positive health effects can be negated by overconsumption of chocolate or eating chocolate with a high sugar content. For best results, seek out dark chocolate with 70% or higher cacao content that contain minimal added ingredients.