By, Ginger Cochran, MS, RDM, CEP-ACSM, CDCES
That melt-in-your-mouth chocolate deliciousness many of us crave is not only good for our taste buds but excellent for our health, according to researchers.
Chocolate is commonly associated as a guilty indulgence. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I’m here to tell you: you can drop the guilt. You can have your chocolate and eat it too, my friend. Check out these 3 health boosting chocolate facts you didn’t know you should know.
1. It’s an Antioxidant Powerhouse
You may have already heard chocolate has antioxidants, but you may not realize just how much. According to research published in Bio Medical Central, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than fruit. Ever heard of getting in your five a day of fruit and vegetables? It may be time to count dark chocolate as one of them.
Why do we care about antioxidants? Antioxidants act like scavengers in the body capturing free radicals that can cause cell damage. This cell damage can led to disease, premature aging, decreased immunity and decrease athletic performance. Getting in regular boosts of antioxidant foods such as chocolate, fruits and vegetables gives your body the best fighting chance.
2. It Helps Keep Your Blood Flowing
Dark chocolate is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols. These flavanols support the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps open and relax blood vessels, creating greater blood flow. This helps protect the heart from damage and improve blood pressure. Studies have shown, just 6 grams a day of dark chocolate (equivalent of 1 small Designer Protein Designer Dark Chocolate square) has the ability to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and mortality.
3. Promotes Mental Clarity and Mental Health
Let’s face it: in the world today, we need all the help we can get to stay focused and calm. Multiple research studies have shown that the high flavanol content of chocolate has the ability to improve memory and reaction time just two hours after consuming. Flavanols accumulate in the brain promoting new neuron growth, protection and function resulting in enhanced mental function.
Chocolate’s mental health enhancing capabilities stems from its flavanol and methylxanthine content. These components have been shown in research to improve depression and anxiety symptoms. So that oh-so good calm, feeling you get after eating may not just be in your head.
It’s time to drop the chocolate guilt. Including dark chocolate in your diet has multiple health benefits from head-to-toe. Choose dark chocolate with >70% cacao content to reap the most benefits - Designer Protein Designer Dark Chocolate square contain 85%. Eat it slowly, mindfully, and enjoy.
(1) Dark Chocolate, The Nutrition Source, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
(2) BMC Chemistry
(3) National Institute of Health- Effects of Dark Chocolate Intake on Brain Electrical Oscillations in Healthy People
(4) Harvard Health Blog- Your brain on chocolate.
(5) National Library of Medicine- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23810791/
Edited by: Heather Sison