Forget the apple, Dark chocolate is now under the research spotlight for its positive health attributes, and I’m certainly not going to find it hard to swallow this “medicine”. P.s. Please don’t stop eating apples, take the “as well” approach.
Everyone loves a good chocolate now and again, some more regularly than others, and I admit to falling into the more often than not category, and that’s ok, so long as I’m making the right choices in my sugary goodness selection. We have all heard “everything in moderation”, and I stand by this wholeheartedly, but the next key to your chocolate addition is making sure you choose the right chocolate, dark chocolate! It’s the dark chocolate that is not only capable of satisfying your naughty craving but providing health benefits as well.
Dark chocolate provides you with a range of minerals including iron, magnesium, copper and manganese.
It is also a good source of a variety of antioxidants, including flavonols and polyphenols, which help to prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress within the body. The caffeine and theobromine of dark chocolate may also be the reason for my 3pm cravings, as they are said to excite and stimulate your central nervous system.
No more stress, anxiety or moodiness
Your day is looking up with dark chocolate consumption as research has indicated dark chocolate may be useful in managing anxiety and stress levels and balancing mood. Daily dark chocolate consumption has been found to significantly lower the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamine’s in patients with high anxiety levels (Natural Standard 2009). Research by Macht and Mueller (2007) also found eating chocolate reduced a negative mood when compared to just drinking water.
Love your Heart
Looking after your heart should be a number one priority for everyone, with Cardiovascular Disease remaining the number one cause of death throughout the world, with 17 million deaths in 2011 alone (WHO 2013). Enjoying dark chocolate daily has been shown to be an effective cardiovascular preventative in a population with hypertension and metabolic syndrome (Zomer et al. 2012). Metabolic syndrome being essentially a list of risk factors, like high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, and obesity, which significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Research in patients with hypertension and impaired glucose tolerance has attributed the flavonols content in dark chocolate to decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increased insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing, as it enables your body to better utilise the carbohydrates from your diet throughout your body (Grassi et al. 2008).
Atherosclerosis is another target for Dark Chocolate research as the antioxidant potential of dark chocolate has been found to induce coronary (heart) vasodilation, improve coronary (heart) vascular function and decrease platelet adhesion (a function in blood clotting but also an early step in the formation of atherosclerosis) (Flammer et al. 2007). This study also found the antioxidants in dark chocolate were able to cause a significant reduction in serum oxidative stress levels by neutralising free radical damage. The flavonols and plant sterols in dark chocolate have also been found to decrease both total serum and LDL cholesterol (Allen et al. 2008), which is a goal for many Australians, as 5.6 million Australian adults are suffering from high cholesterol (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013).
Slip Slop Slap?
Dark chocolate, or more the flavonols contained in the chocolate, have also been found to be offer significant photoprotection, meaning your daily chocolate dose can also be useful in protecting the skin from the harmful UV effects of the sun. (Williams, Tamburic, Lally 2009)
Other research promoting dark chocolate
The Natural Standards (2013), a high quality, evidenced based research database, confirms dark chocolate as being useful for high blood pressure and liver cirrhosis with strong and good scientific supporting evidence. Anxiety, heart disease, high blood sugar, glucose intolerance, high cholesterol, and mental performance are also indicated however they suggest further evidence and trials would be beneficial to prove chocolates’ efficacy in these areas.