Yes, you heard correctly! Whilst it’s a line we have likely all been telling ourselves for a while now, I am pleased to confirm that there is an underlying truth to this tasty statement. Eating – and here’s the key – good quality chocolate in moderation, can deliver a number of health benefits as it contains a range of nutrients which each result in improved health conditions. Sound too good to be true? Read on to find out more…
It’s a powerful source of anti-oxidants
A buzz-word for many, anti-oxidants are natural molecules which help to neutralise harmful free radicals in our bodies. Good quality chocolate contains polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, amongst other anti-oxidants and these all play a role in helping to lower some forms of bad cholesterol, particularly when combined with additional foods such as almonds and blueberries. Thankfully, these are two of the flavours available in my delicious chocolate range – Cycle at Sunset and Ramble in the Woods. Studies have also shown that top notch dark chocolate, such as that used in my Friends by the Fire, Moment at Midnight and Show Under the Stars, had more anti-oxidant activity polyphenols and flavanols than supposed super-foods acai berries and blueberries.
Improved brain function
Something I think we could all agree we need, assistance in keeping our brains active and healthy and the good news is, consuming dark chocolate may help you do that. High-flavanol cocoa has been proven to assist young adults with their attention skills, verbal learning and memory whilst studies are on-going to investigate how beneficial it might be to older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Plus, as chocolate is a known stimulant, it’s a great way to improve short-term brain function, a perfect way to address the mid-afternoon office slump I think!
Reducing the risk of heart disease
A more serious subject for many, heart disease is the cause of a quarter of all deaths in the UK each year with nearly 8 million individuals living with the disease. One satisfying way to help reduce your risk of heart disease is by consuming chocolate. Research published in the BMJ concluded that consuming chocolate could lessen the chances of developing heart disease by one third with higher chocolate consumption linked to lower risks of cardiometabolic disorders.
Good for fitness
I appreciate this may seem counterintuitive however results published in The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition confirmed that eating a small amount of good quality dark chocolate during training may well boost oxygen availability during fitness training. It is thought that the success of dark chocolate in this instance is that it contains flavonols known as epicatechins, which enhance the release of nitric oxide in the body.
Lower blood pressure
It is thought that the flavanoids found in good dark chocolate can stimulate the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide and as one of the functions of nitric oxide is to send signals to the arteries to relax, it is suggested that eating chocolate lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. Numerous studies support this theory proving that good quality cocoa and chocolate can enhance blood flow, lowering blood pressure although these may be small, they are still statistically significant.
As a HUGE life-long fan of chocolate, I could talk all day about the benefitis of eating this mouth-wateringly wonderful food however I hope that this has inspired some of you to lose a little guilt when it comes to treating yourself. It is true, a little of what you fancy really does do you good.