Dark chocolate reduces stress, improves immunity: 5 benefits of this delicious treat you didn’t know

Healthy Eating

If you’re like many others who love to eat chocolate, take heart. But mind you, here we’re referring to one specific type – ‘dark chocolate’ – and not just any other chocolates. New research studies shed light on how consuming dark chocolate can reduce stress and inflammation, as well as improve memory, immunity and mood. Numerous studies have claimed that dark chocolates are loaded with nutrients that are beneficial for your body in different ways. This is due to the high concentration of cacao – a major source of flavonoids. Cacaos is a bean-like seed, from which cocoa and chocolate are made. Also Read This: Don’t Let Stress Get To You, It Can Damage Your Sperm Quality And Fertility

According to the researchers, the flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health. “For years, we have looked at the influence of dark chocolate on neurological functions from the standpoint of sugar content – the more sugar, the happier we are,” said lead investigator Lee S Berk, from Loma Linda University in California, US.

“This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings,” Berk added. Also Read This: 10 Yoga Poses To Beat Stress And Anxiety

Further, the research also showed that dark chocolate can affect human gene expression as it regulates cellular immune response, neural signalling, and sensory perception. “These studies show us that higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects,” Berk noted.

The research examined how brain activity reacted to dark chocolate consumption. Gamma waves recorded by an electroencephalogram (EEG) suggested the delicious treat could positively impact brain function, such as cognitive function and creativity, even two hours after eating it.

The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting in San Diego, US.

Berk, however, added the studies need further investigation, specifically to determine the significant effects of dark chocolate on immune cells and the brain.

Health benefits of dark chocolates

Since dark chocolate contains a high amount of cocoa flavanols, it can positively affect your health in different ways. Here are five amazing health benefits of eating dark chocolate. Take a look!

Heart healthy

According to one study published in The Journal of Nutrition, chocolate consumption might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as ‘bad fats’. The research found that chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood pressure. The compounds in dark chocolate were found to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. Also Read This: Stress And Suicide: 10 Warning Signs And Tips To Free The Mind Of Killer Tension

Improves mood

Research suggests that cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate can enhance your mood. One study conducted at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate – about 1.4 ounces – every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in people who were highly stressed.

Prevents diabetes

The findings of a study showed that cocoa compound named epicatechin monomers helps the body release more insulin and responds to increased blood glucose better. This indicates that dark chocolate can actually help prevent as well as treat diabetes.

Protects brain from ageing

A study done by the researchers from the University of California San Diego in the US showed that the epicatechin (Epi), a flavanol found in foods such as dark chocolate, can help reduce damaging oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in a mouse model of ageing. Also Read This: 5 Gentle Desktop Yoga Exercises To Reduce Work Stress And Stay Fit

Their findings indicated that eating dark chocolate may protect the brain from age-related stress and inflammation which play an important role in the neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is suggested that cocoa may also improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment.

Good for skin

Studies also showed that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage while increasing skin density and hydration. Thus, dark chocolate that contains the bioactive compounds may be great for your skin as well.

Note: Although there is considerable evidence that cocoa in dark chocolate can offer powerful health benefits, people shouldn’t go all out and consume lots of this delicious treat every day, as it is still loaded with calories.

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