What’s your favourite thing about Easter? Hot Cross Buns? Egg hunts? Time with family?
If, like many others, your favourite part of Easter is the chocolate, I’ve got good news for you. Chocolate is good for you! No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. It’s true! Chocolate has many benefits; though, like all the best foods, it should be consumed in moderation.
First things first, the type of chocolate is important. Choose high quality, organic dark chocolate, the higher the cocoa content, the better. The higher the cocoa content, the lower the amount of sugar. Try to find chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more.
Now to those benefits. I know you want to hear them!
- Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants (flavanols – more from them later! – & polyphenols), soluble fibre, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc & copper. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by ‘free radicals’, harmful molecules that can cause a number of illnesses. One study has shown that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than super foods such as blueberries and acai berries.
- It can help lower cholesterol, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure. Flavanols stimulate the lining of the arteries, which then produces Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide sends signals to the arteries to help them relax, lowering their resistance to blood flow and decreasing blood pressure. This can also help reduce risk factors for heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Chocolate can prevent cognitive decline and improve cognitive function in the elderly. A study showed that drinking hot chocolate twice per day improved blood flow to the parts of the brain that store memories. A 2014 study showed that lavado, a cocoa extract, could perhaps reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways in the brain found in patients with Alzheimer’s, meaning their symptoms could be slowed.
- Chocolate can also reduce your risk of stroke. A study in the journal Heart showed that eating up to 100 grams of chocolate daily could be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. People who eat chocolate on a regular basis were found to be 22% less likely to suffer a stroke, and those who ate chocolate regularly and had a stroke were 46% less likely to die as a result of the stroke.
- It may sound like a lie, but chocolate can actually help you lose weight! Dark chocolate is more filling. If you melt a small piece on your tongue, 20 minutes before eating a meal, it will trigger hormones in the brain that tell you that you’re full. This means you will eat less. Repeat the process after your meal to prevent later snacking.
- Forget about acne, recent findings have shown that dark chocolate can be good for your skin and prevent sun damage. Flavanols improve blood flow to the skin, increasing skin density and hydration.
- Chocolate can give you relief from diarrhoea. The Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine, halting diarrhoea.
- Perhaps most importantly, chocolate tastes great and is good for the soul! Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a compound found in chocolate. It is the same chemical the brain creates when you fall in love. PEA causes the brain to release endorphins that make you feel amazing. Ergo, chocolate makes you feel amazing!
So remember, it’s okay to indulge in chocolate treats without feeling guilty.
Dark chocolate is best
Moderation is key
If it prevents disease or makes your skin look great, even better!
We wish you a happy and safe Easter!