It’s this time of year again: the season for getting cozy inside with a hot chocolate in hand and your daily piece of Santa-shaped cocoa goodness straight from your advent calendar. It’s the holiday season and that means there’ll be plenty of chocolate going around. And while you’re already making plans to drop all that chocolate weight in the new year, you should know that the mighty cocoa bean actually boasts a whole range of health benefits.
It’s the dark variant that is the healthiest. A bar of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 to 85 percent is packed with plenty of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper. Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk or white variants.
Dark chocolate is good for heart health
Cocoa contains flavanols which help to promote blood flow and can lower blood pressure. These compounds also protect against bad cholesterol accumulating in the arteries which can lead to heart disease. Studies have shown that cardiovascular death risk was 50 percent lower in men who regularly ate cocoa. And eating dark chocolate five times or more per week reduced heart disease by 57 percent.
Chocolate boosts mood
When the gray skies are leaving you feeling a little low, reach for a bar of dark chocolate. Cocoa contains compounds that boost energy and enhance mood. That’s why eating the delicious treat can be so addictive – it makes us feel good.
Eat chocolate for more brain power
Because cocoa promotes blood flow to the brain, it appears to be boosting our cognitive abilities. So whether you’re reading, working or studying, a piece of dark chocolate could help you boost concentration and productivity.
Dark chocolate helps with diabetes
Believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually a great snack for diabetics. It’s a common misconception that diabetics should steer clear of all sweets. A moderate amount of dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood sugar, according to a research published in ARYA Atherosclerosis . That’s because the antioxidants and other components in cocoa let the body use insulin more effectively. Specifically, the flavanols in chocolate help cells secrete insulin to manage blood glucose. Obviously, to reap the positive effects of cocoa diabetics should opt for low-sugar variants.
Chocolate is a superfood for dental health
Not all chocolate deserves a reputation as a cavity-causing treat and dark chocolate is one such exception. High quality cocoa contains a compound that has antibacterial effects and fights plaque. This compound has been shown to be better than fluoride in maintaining the health of enamel, the outer layer of your teeth. But remember that for all its health benefits, dark chocolate still has plenty of fat and calories. And if you think carpets and soft furnishings are the only areas prone to chocolate stains think again, because consuming too much cocoa can also leave stains on your teeth. While you can easily remove chocolate stains from your clothes, as you can read here, you only have one set of natural teeth. So chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation!