Chocolate. Many of us reach for it when we need comfort. It is a common gift to give on special holidays. Are you aware of the chocolate health benefits?
There has been a time in everyone’s life that we have reached for the chocolate. Some crave it after a breakup. Some consume it during periods of high stress. Others are trying to get rid of their Valentine’s day gift. I could go on and on with the reasons.
Unfortunately, in today’s society there is a negative connotation toward this delectable treat. We are told chocolate is full of sugar. We are told it will make us fat. We are told it should simply be consumed as a delicacy. These rumors are far from the truth. Did you know this treasure of nature is actually healthy? Do you know what the chocolate health benefits are? Read below for some great reasons to consume this delicious snack.
Top 4 Chocolate Health Benefits
1. Reduces Pain
There is a reason our bodies inherently reach for chocolate during times of stress or pain. The reason being? This yummy snack is scientifically proven to reduce pain. There was recently a study posted on the effects on lab rats. When given chocolate the rats did not react to pain as quickly. This means chocolate served as a pain reliever. However, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. In human studies eating excess chocolate can lead to obesity, particularly if the chocolate contains a lot of sugar. Obese people tend to be less susceptible to pain. Obesity is not good. But, pain relief is. Further studies are needed to help people find a healthy balance.
2. Promote Healthier Skin
In a growing age of chemical pollution it is important to find agents to promote healthy skin. Holes in the Earth’s ozone are leading to more UV radiation reaching the surface. This is leading to rises in skin cancer and the need for higher SPF sunscreens. A study by Germany’s Heinrich Heine University studied two populations of people exposed to UV light. The group who consumed chocolate exhibited 15% less redness than those who did not eat the delicacy. The pro chocolate group also showed signs of increasing skin density by 16 percent and a reduction in scaliness by 42 percent. A study by an Australian University proved consuming this delectable snack does not increase risk of breakouts. This is certainly one of the surprising chocolate health benefits!
3. Promote a Healthier Heart
Before delving into how chocolate can promote heart health, it is important to delineate the differences between chocolate. The two key ones are dark chocolate and processed chocolate. The darker variety is rich in cocoa, cocoa liquor, and cocoa butter. These are the components that make chocolate so healthy. The processed variety contains very little of the cocoa paste and therefore lacks on the health benefits.
So regarding heart health, a study showed users who consumed 70% of their intake from darks showed an increase in blood flow. The darker varieties contain polyphenols that communicate to the artery passageways to dilate and become bigger. This prevents plaque buildup which reduces the risk of strokes. The compounds in dark chocolate also lower blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol. It should be noted that milk inhibits the body from absorbing the polyphenols. Thus, when consuming darker varieties try not to consume with milk.
4. Keep up with Your Antioxidants
It is widely known that antioxidants are excellent for health. They promote the immune system. They provide it with the strength and forces necessary to keep you healthy. I like to get my antioxidants from tea or red wine. Not a fan of these antioxidant rich foods? Have no worries. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can help your body get back on track.
Chocolate has somewhat of a bad rep in the health world. Consumed in high quantities it can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity. However, not all chocolates are the same. White chocolate is high in sugars and fats because none of the solid cocoa beans are used. Thus, these other additives are essential to make it taste “better” and good. Milk chocolates have a high milk content. Not bad for most diets but bad when trying to absorb the beneficial components of the cocoa beans. Dark chocolate is certainly the best way to go! It is rich with cocoa beans and contains very little of the “unnecessary” components contained in the other varieties of chocolate. Enjoy your darks to get the most of chocolate health benefits!