Many of us hold chocolate in high regard, if for no other reason than the taste—the decadent flavor and texture that makes you feel a rush of endorphins. But chocolate isn’t only good because of its taste. On the contrary, some of the best qualities of chocolate are actually health-related.
To be clear, when we talk about the health benefits of chocolate, we are largely talking about dark chocolate, that processed with the least amount of added sugar. Ideally, to get the health benefits from your chocolate treat, you should seek out cocoa concentrations as high as you can handle. Because most people don’t like their chocolate bitter, around 80% seems to be a reasonable compromise for many.
The earliest use of chocolate reportedly comes from the Olmec civilization in what is now Central America. It was then that the popularity of chocolate spread across the globe—into Europe and elsewhere. Now, chocolate can be found virtually anywhere, though it’s often stirred into the most otherwise unhealthy of dishes.
By itself, chocolate offers a wealth of healthy benefits. It’s loaded with antioxidants which can help fight oxidative stress and inflammation. But the benefits certainly don’t stop there.
One study, published in The Journal of Nutrition found that chocolate containing plant sterols and cocoa flavanols were able to lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
Further research, from researchers with Harvard Medical School, recommends drinking two cups of hot chocolate each day to ward off cognitive decline associated with aging. Lead author of this study, Farzaneh A. Sorond, says, “As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
Other studies have linked chocolate consumption with the decreased risk of cardiovascular disease including strokes. Researchers with the University of Cambridge in England reported:
“Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption,” reports the BMJ.
Researchers in Canada found that those people who regularly ate chocolate were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke than others who didn’t. further, those who suffered a stroke and ate chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result, according to Medical News Today.
So is chocolate good for you? It certainly can be! But rather than eating it with all sorts of added sugars, oils, and other additives as found in candy bars and conventional ice creams, seek out organic dark chocolate bars to indulge your sweet tooth while doing something good for your health.
Chocolate can be great for:
- 1. Fighting oxidative stress
- 2. Combating inflammation
- 3. Lowering cholesterol
- 4. Reducing blood pressure
- 5. Warding off cognitive decline
- 6. Improving cardiovascular health
- 7. Reducing the risk of stroke