As the weather starts to cool down, we all start to crave pumpkin spice lattes, cozy sweaters, and of course – chocolate.
Chocolate is often seen as a sinful indulgence, but it turns out that this sweet treat may actually have some health benefits. Here are five reasons why you should indulge in some chocolate this Halloween!
- Chocolate is a source of antioxidants.
- Chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
- Chocolate can improve cognitive function and memory.
- Chocolate can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Chocolate is high in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and iron.
Read on to learn more!
Picking a Healthier Chocolate
If you’re a chocolate lover, you may be wondering how to choose a healthy chocolate that still satisfies your sweet tooth. After all, not all chocolate is created equal.
Milk chocolate is generally higher in sugar and fat than dark chocolate (1). It also often contains dairy and other additives. On the other hand, dark chocolate is made mostly of cocoa powder and (usually) doesn’t contain dairy. It also generally has a lower sugar content and higher levels of antioxidants (1).
So if you’re looking for a healthier chocolate option, dark chocolate is the way to go. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up milk chocolate entirely. Just be mindful of the amount of sugar and additives in your milk chocolate bar, and enjoy it in moderation!
Now let’s learn about the health benefits of chocolate.
Dark chocolate is often touted as a healthy treat thanks to its high antioxidant content. But what exactly are antioxidants, and what types are found in chocolate?
Antioxidants are compounds that help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals (2). Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell inflammation and damage, leading to various health problems. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals, which may help to prevent them from causing cellular damage.
Several types of antioxidants are found in chocolate, including catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins (3). Catechins and epicatechins are types of flavonoids, and they’re thought to help to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy microbiome. Procyanidins are another type of antioxidant found in chocolate. They’re thought to promote heart health by helping to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
By consuming foods high in antioxidants, you can help keep your gut healthy and your immune system robust. And what could be more delicious than chocolate?
Blood Flow and Blood Pressure
Chocolate has long been touted for its antioxidant content, which is thought to help protect the body against disease. However, recent studies have shown that chocolate may also positively affect blood flow and blood pressure (4).
In one study, participants who ate chocolate daily for two weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not eat chocolate. Another study found that chocolate improved blood flow and helped prevent “bad” cholesterol from sticking to artery walls.
These findings suggest that chocolate may be a good choice for those looking to improve their cardiovascular health. So next time you’re tempted by a sweet treat, reach for some dark chocolate – your heart might just thank you for it.
Cognitive Function and Memory
Chocolate has been shown to affect cognitive function and memory positively.
A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience found that antioxidants in chocolate can help to improve memory and protect against age-related cognitive decline. The study’s lead author, Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, said that the antioxidants in chocolate can help to “maintain brain function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.”
Other studies have also found that chocolate can help to improve memory and mental performance. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed chocolate performed better on tests of working memory and attention than those who did not consume chocolate.
Another study published in the journal Appetite found that people who ate chocolate before completing a memory test could recall more information than those who did not eat chocolate. These studies suggest that chocolate can be beneficial for cognitive function and memory.
So if you’re looking for a way to boost your brain power, reach for some chocolate! Just be sure to choose a bar of dark chocolate with a high cocoa content to get the most antioxidants possible.
Antioxidants found in chocolate have been shown to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This can prevent significant spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be harmful to health. In addition, chocolate helps to increase insulin sensitivity, which allows the body to process sugar better (5).
As a result, chocolate can be an effective tool for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, so long as it’s relatively low in sugar and eaten alongside a high-fat or high-protein food.
Chocolate is high in vitamins and minerals that can have positive health benefits.
For example, chocolate is a good source of magnesium, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles. Chocolate is also rich in iron, which helps to transport oxygen around the body and plays a role in energy production (6).
Wrapping It Up
Although chocolate has some health benefits, it’s still crucial to consume it in moderation. When choosing a type of chocolate, look for something low in sugar and dairy-free. Organic chocolate is also a good choice as it doesn’t contain any added chemicals or preservatives. So go ahead and indulge in some chocolate this Halloween – just be sure to choose wisely!