Like most people over Easter, I probably had more than my fill of chocolatey goodness over the Easter break. So to justify all of the yumminess I ate, the Woman of Style and Substance team thought it might be a good idea to research if indeed chocolate is bad for you. Guess what? It is actually good for you. Although, with everything, moderation is the key as chocolate can be high in sugar and fat.
Chocolate has been deemed a “bad” food for many years and has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes. All of which have been debunked.
New research shows, “the discovery of active compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in ageing, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.” Great news, isn’t it?
So what are the benefits of eating chocolate?
Chocolate may prevent memory decline and Alzheimers
Researchers have found that chocolate can help preserve blood flow in working areas of the brain. As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow.
Researchers found that a cocoa extract – called lavado – may reduce or block damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This means that symptoms of the condition – such as cognitive decline – could be prevented.
Other researchers from Oxford University and Norway looked at chocolate’s long-term effects on the brain by studying the diets of more than 2,000 people over age 70. They found that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored significantly higher on cognitive tests than those who didn’t.
Chocolate may reduce heart disease risk
Research published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has suggested that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one third.
“Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Further experimental studies are required to confirm a potentially beneficial effect of chocolate consumption.”
Chocolate, wine and berries may protect against type 2 diabetes.
Researchers discovered that a certain antioxidant in cocoa – the main ingredient in chocolate – prevented mice from gaining weight and lowered their blood sugar levels. Their study was published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry in February 2014.
Chocolate may prevent stroke
A study has found that people eating chocolate were 22 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result.
Yes, really! Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satisfied than its lighter-coloured sibling. That is, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So if indulging in a bit of healthy dark chocolate should not only make it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but it should make it easier for you to stick to your diet in general.
Swiss scientists found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated.
So there you go, chocolate IS good for you!