Many of chocolate’s superpowers –cutting stress, boosting your mood, helping you cope with PMS — are all well known.
But what about its lesser-known health properties? Recent studies show that indulging in chocolate can give you a truck-load of health benefits, ranging from heart health to even keeping you thin!
“Chocolate has a well-deserved health halo,” says Beth Reardon, director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. “But not all chocolate is created equal.”
Here are 5 weird reasons to eat more chocolate – not that you needed any more excuses — and also 5 tips for boosting its health benefits.
1.Chocolate Boosts Your Vision
In a recent British study, young adult participants were asked to eat either dark or white chocolate, then tested their visual contrast sensitivity ( ability to read light-colored words on a light-colored background) and motion sensitivity ( ability to detect moving dots on a moving background). The participants came back later to try the other type of chocolate and retake the tests. The results showed that, relative to white chocolate, dark chocolate better boosted scores on both tests and also improved spatial memory.
Picking out moving dots on a computer screen isn’t an essential task for most of us, but what about driving at night? Being able to detect motion in low-contrast situations is a pretty important part of driving safely.
The authors suggested that the effects of chocolate on vision might be even greater in older adults, who generally have a harder time distinguishing contrasts.
2.Chocolate Eases Chronic Coughs
In a small British study in 2005, participants were asked to inhale capsaicin, the stuff that makes chili peppers spicy, and then were given various potential cough suppressants. The one that worked best? You guessed it — Hot cocoa.
Researchers found that ‘Theobromine’, a derivative of chocolate, worked better than Codeine to stop coughing. This was probably because of its effect on the vagus nerve, which links the brain to the stomach, heart, and other important organs.
Based on these findings, a British company is working to develop a cough syrup based on the compound that would have none of the drowsiness-inducing side effects of codeine-based syrups — and might taste better, too.
3.Chocolate Protects Your Skin
A German study in 2006 found that the flavonols in dark chocolate can protect skin from the harmful effects of UV light. A 2009 study in Britain found similar results but noted that the levels of flavonols required to protect your skin are higher than those found in most standard chocolate. The special, high-flavonol chocolate used in the study increased blood flow and moisture content in the skin, helping to keep skin healthier and better looking.
“Sugar negates the health benefits of the powerful antioxidants in chocolate.” Instead, look for a bar that lists cocoa solids or cocoa mass as the top ingredient. Or sprinkle a handful of bitter cocoa nibs and enjoy chocolate granola. Also add to trail mix, or cookie dough. You’ll get the health benefits of chocolate with no added sugar.
4.Chocolate Prevents Diarrhea !
If you had a bad case of the runs in 16th-century South America, you probably would have been given chocolate to ease your symptoms.
In 2005, a collaborative study between the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, California, and Heinrich Heine University in Germany found the scientific evidence to support the ancient treatment — the flavonoids in chocolate can inhibit a protein called CFTR, which can cause the extra intestinal fluid secretion characteristic of diarrhea.
5.Chocolate Protects Your Heart
A 2011 meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal looked at more than 100,000 study participants in 7 different studies and found that eating chocolate cuts the risk of various cardiovascular diseases by a whole third.
Separate studies have found that chocolate can:
– lower blood pressure,
– improve blood vessel health, and help
– regulate blood sugar.
What does that say about taking drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes??
So what are you waiting for??
Indulge – and stop feeling guilty!
Chocolate is god sent.
It’s GOOD for you.