Chocolate is a product of the cacao plant and is found in liquid, paste, and solid form with the taste ranging from sweet to bitter. It’s more than just a delicious treat. Chocolate has enough physical and mental health benefits to exorcise whatever guilt society attaches to it.
This treat is high in calories, and a rich source of B12, niacin, riboflavin, and Vitamin E. It also contains carbohydrates, sugar, protein, and minerals including phosphorus, manganese, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Dark chocolate is packed with a variety of powerful antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols.
Benefits of chocolate
Consuming chocolate reduces cardiovascular risks by one-third. People who eat it are also 22% less likely to experience a stroke than those who do not. Research suggests that it reduces LDL cholesterol which is bad cholesterol. It also helps improve blood pressure both of which work towards supporting cardiovascular health.
Harvard medical school scientists suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate could keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people. It helps improve blood flow to the parts of the brain where it is needed. It may also make you more alert which aids in learning and intelligence.
Appetite control and weight loss
Darker varieties in particular are known as natural appetite suppressors. It has fibre which gives the feeling of being full. This helps curb overeating and lowers the desire to eat between meals. Cocoa also has an antioxidant called resveratrol which helps the body burn fats faster to produce energy. You should consume it in moderation.
Fetal growth and development
One study found that eating about 30g of chocolate daily while pregnant may benefit fetal growth and development.
Researchers found that eating a little dark chocolate may boost oxygen availability during fitness training. Cyclists who ate some used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace and covered more distance in a timed time trial.
Compounds present in chocolate, including epicatechin and flavonoids, may help protect the brain from damage after a stroke. These compounds are helpful in lowering the risk of nervous disorders, such as Alzheimer’s.
Theobromine in cocoa gives relief from persistent coughs and acts as an effective anti-cough agent in humans.
Unsweetened or dark chocolate improves glucose metabolism and decreases blood pressure.
Cocoa has tryptophan an essential amino acid that increases the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has soothing and refreshing effects in case of tension and stress.
One study found that eating 40g of milk or dark chocolate every day for 2 weeks considerably reduced stress in medical students who were under high stress. What’s interesting is this correlation was more evident in women with milk chocolate reducing stress more than dark varieties.
Side-effects of chocolate
It irritates the stomach lining which is dangerous for people with gastritis whose stomach lining is already irritated by gastric juices.
Because of its irritating effect on the stomach lining, it encourages the escape of gastric juices into the oesophagus and exacerbates acid reflux symptoms. 8 Ways To Ease The Symptoms Of Acidity
The caffeine content in chocolate can cause insomnia and poor sleep quality. Theophylline in chocolate may also cause irritability, headaches, nausea, and lightheadedness.
Cocoa stimulates both the cardiovascular and nervous systems and can cause heart palpitations, and irregular or fast heartbeats.
Eating chocolate can cause or worsen existing acne.
Remember, even when seeking the benefits, moderation is key.