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Being told that we should be eating chocolate. Who would have thought? Here are six proven benefits of eating good quality dark chocolate, for you and your body
It would probably be fair to say that most of us are partial to a sweet treat every now and then, however it might make us feel guilty. Instead of reaching for a bar of Dairy Milk or chocolate digestives, buy yourself some good quality dark chocolate. Here are the benefits of dark chocolate, and all the reasons why it’s actually kind of good for you.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate
Catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins, are just a few examples of antioxidants found in cocoa. The role of antioxidants is to help neutralise harmful, unstable atoms and reduce the damage caused by oxidation. Oxidation in the body is the damaging of cell membranes, made worst by many different things such as smoking, alcohol, sunlight, or pollution.
These antioxidants have been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart. All these things happening in your body result in you having a happy and healthy heart. Dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Look for chocolate that has a cocoa content of 70 per cent, or more.
What happens to your immune system?
When our immune system is under stress, it finds it hard to fight off anything that the body knows isn’t good for us. In order to keep our immune systems healthy, we need to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Flavanols. A term many of us may be unsure about. They’re compounds which prevent the immune system from going into overdrive, and reduces our oxidative stress. Sounds like something we all might need. Reducing our oxidative stress is important because the damage caused by oxidation can result in lifelong disease. With the oxidative stress contributing to the natural ageing process, reducing this can also help you age at a slower rate.
Helps to keep your skin radiant
Having radiant and healthy-looking skin may feel harder to achieve as we get older. After years of applying makeup and UV damage from the sun, we need to find ways to protect our skin. Good quality dark chocolate is packed with vitamins and minerals such as copper, iron and magnesium.
Another important mineral in dark chocolate is manganese. It supports the production of collagen, which is essential for healing human skin cells. Chocolate keeps your skin healthy-looking? Sign me up.
Reduces your cortisol
One hormone we want to avoid having too much of is cortisol. It’s the main stress hormone in the human body, and when levels stay high it can cause us chronic stress.
Studies have been done and found that eating dark chocolate can reduce cortisol levels. This may be related to dark chocolate’s effect on heart health. So, if you’re sat in a stressful meeting, munch on a couple of squares of dark chocolate to help you get through it.
Improves brain function
Remember I mentioned flavanols earlier? Well, these seem to have another benefit, too. And what a better benefit to have, than improved brain function?
Flavanols can help us have better reaction times, improved attention and stronger memory. Harvard University has done studies showing the benefits of the short-term and long-term consumption on brain function. There was evidence of improved brain blood flow, oxygen levels and nerve function. Eat dark chocolate, you’ll help your brain. Bulk buying it may be the way forward.
Great for your gut
Dark chocolate is considered a prebiotic. Not to be confused with probiotic, a live microorganism known for restoring the gut. In simple terms, prebiotics are a type of fibre which encourages the growth of bacteria, beneficial for a healthy gut.
Healthline have release studies on the findings that dark chocolate can decrease hunger and appetite. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate reduces the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. A couple of chunks as a snack, or after a meal, will leave you feeling full for hours.
So, the benefits of dark chocolate can be great for you and your body. We’re all going to want to run to the shops right away. However, it’s all about balance. Too much of anything can ruin the positive effects it may have. Next time you buy a bar, share it with a partner or a colleague at work.
Tasting your chocolate
you should have a rich and flavoursome experience
Having given you all the science you need to eat chocolate without feeling the guilt, make sure you’re tasting it properly. If you thought scoffing it down without thinking was the way to go, think again. Here’s how to REALLY taste your chocolate.
Start with a good quality bar
Starting with buying a good quality dark chocolate bar will make all the difference. The main thing to look out for is the cacao content. 70 per cent or above is what you are looking for. This number will tell you that the chocolate bar is packed with high amounts of nutrients for you body.
Use your senses
Almost like with wine tasting, you can use all five of your senses to fully indulge in the chocolate you’re eating. Take care to smell the aromas of the chocolate when opening your bar. The chocolate should be a deep brown colour, and have a smooth finish. When picking up your chocolate, it shouldn’t melt in your hands. Listen to the chocolate snap as you break of a piece off. Slowly chew the block of chocolate, for a rich and flavoursome experience.
Store your chocolate properly
Make sure you keep your chocolate tightly wrapped in its packaging. You don’t want anything to alter its taste. Keep it in a cool, dry place at room temperature.
Try different origins
Cacao trees are grown in many regions across Central and South America. They thrive in regions with high humidity, and lots of rain. Although they have similar growing conditions, when processed into dark chocolate, the cacao beans can acquire different tastes. Why don’t you try them all? See which one is your favourite.
Having a three month break from uni, where she’s studying marketing, Ellie can normally be found in a coffee shop, on the beach or spending all her money on food.
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