The cocoa bean is made up of many phytochemicals, most of which give health benefits in humans. However, it should be noted that not all chocolate is valuable. Most of the beneficial impact of chocolate i attributed to dark chocolate. Having a piece of dark chocolate might not only give you a physical pick, but also a mental one. Research suggests that the ingredients in dark chocolate can affect cognitive function and cardiovascular health, and act as potent antioxidants as well. However, to enjoy the many benefits of chocolate, you have to take it in moderation. Here are some chocolate health facts that you should be aware of.
1. Improves brain performance
Many studies have shown that regular chocolate intake results in an improved brain performance. Flavonoid-rich chocolate leads to better cognitive test performance in both men and women. Besides, chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which leads to improvement in performance of tasks and general alertness.
- Improves mood
Chocolate has certain compounds that have an effect on mood, including serotonin, phenylethylamine magnesium and tryptophan. These chemicals make individuals feel uplifted and relaxed. This explains why people might have chocolate cravings during periods of mental and hormonal imbalance.
- Reduces stress
Another chocolate health fact is that it relieves emotional stress. Daily consumption of chocolate reduces stress hormones as well as other biochemical changes that are related to stress. Highly stressed adults seem to be less stressed when they take chocolate on a daily basis.
- Lowers cardiovascular disease risk
Dark chocolate helps in controlling some forms of cardiovascular disease, and in prevention. Eating chocolate regularly reduces your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases up to about 50%.
Chocolate has some stimulants that can cause feelings of mental acuity and pleasure. Caffeine and theobromine are among the stimulants found in chocolate. While theobromine is a weak stimulant, it creates a lifted feeling when consumed with caffeine. Phenylethylamine is also present in chocolate. All of these stimulants boost neurotransmitter action in the brain, leading to heightened senses.
- Prevents stroke damage
Consuming dark chocolate a few hours after you experience a stroke might protect your brain from injuries related to the stroke. This is according to a study that was published in the year 2010.
- Lowers blood pressure
Research has shown that eating some amount of dark chocolate every day might increase your blood pressure. The ingredient that is credited for this effect is polyphenols, which are found in chocolate. Therefore, taking chocolate cakes, bars or beverages can be beneficial to high blood pressure patients.
- Food cravings reduction
Dark chocolate is attributed to the reduction of food cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. However, it should be noted that some types of chocolate might not reduce cravings such as milk chocolate.
In conclusion, there are several chocolate health facts that you should be aware of. Eating chocolate has many benefits, among them improving your brain performance, improving your mood, reducing stress and food cravings, and reducing your risk of acquiring cardiovascular diseases. However, for you to enjoy the above discussed benefits, you have to choose the right type of chocolate. When choosing a chocolate treat, ensure that you go for dark varieties, so as to enjoy the beneficial effects.