Chocolate, whether it is milk, dark, or even white is a delicious treat that most of us like to indulge in. Its sugary goodness might make it seem like it might not be the healthiest of foods, but the ingredients found within chocolate itself, actually have some surprising health benefits. The next time you break off a square of this good stuff, you can enjoy it guilt-free since it is actually good for you.
The key ingredient in chocolate, cocoa, is known as a very powerful antioxidant. The darker the chocolate, the higher the amount of cocoa, and thus, the more health benefits. Cocoa itself has been studied pretty extensively. When it is eaten in the form of dark chocolate or even milk chocolate, it has been shown to reduce cholesterol, decrease memory loss, and possibly lower the risk of heart disease. The one thing you want to remember here is that chocolate bars and milk chocolate, tend to contain a lot of sugars and added fats. This means that you may not be getting all of these great benefits because too much sugar and fat can lead to other health issues.
For the athletes out there, and those of us that enjoy a good run through the park, dark chocolate has been shown to boost oxygen use. When you exercise, whether it is a simple walk or an intense gym session, your body needs to use the oxygen in your blood to fuel your muscles. Your heart rate will increase, and a lot of blood will flow into your muscles to get them working at an optimal level. Athletes, or gym enthusiasts who eat dark chocolate before a workout, were shown to use less oxygen, which means their bodies were not working as hard. Sometimes you may find yourself gasping for air, these gulps of air contain that much-needed oxygen. But, dark chocolate may just allow you to breathe more easily, and let your body work more efficiently.
Reduce Cognitive Impairment
Sometimes our brains may feel like they are running a bit slower than usual. The answer is usually to enjoy a nice cup of coffee to stimulate the body and get your synapses firing. Chocolate, or that very special ingredient, cocoa, has been shown to increase cognitive function. For your brain to work, it needs blood flow, and cocoa acts to increase this. That increase in blood flow could actually work to slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and similar cognitive ones.
It is also possible, that the flavonols found in dark chocolate might be able to protect your skin from the sun. The flavonols found in cocoa, actually work to hydrate your skin and make it denser. It is a lot harder for the sun to seep through your skin, and turn it that not so lovely shade of red, if it is well hydrated and protected. Don’t forget to put on some sunscreen before you hit the beach, and eat a few pieces of dark chocolate to help ward off the sun’s rays.
So, grab some dark chocolate, or some milk chocolate with a fairly high cocoa percentage, snap off a couple of squares and enjoy. Your body will thank you for it!