Eastbourne Chiropractor James Revell talks about ‘The Health Benefits of Chocolate’
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy a chocolate treat from time to time. However, with many speculations about poor health and chocolate, you may worry about the health consequences of eating too much chocolate.
In 2016, the global chocolate industry was worth an estimated £73.7 million. Trends and statistics show that this figure is increasing year by year. That’s a lot of chocolate!
Studies have shown that there are some proven health benefits of eating dark chocolate and cocoa nibs (an alternative to chocolate) in moderate quantities.
But are the health benefits real?
Dark chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree meaning it contains antioxidants which have many health benefits. Eastbourne Chiropractor James Revell explores the research to find the top proven health benefits of eating dark chocolate in moderate quantities.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Dark chocolate has been shown to improve heart health in a number of ways.
Cleveland Clinic has shown that dark chocolate can have positive effects on lowering blood pressure and blood flow around the heart itself. Antioxidants can also help to prevent inflammation and reduce the platelet activity in blood clots which are both processes in heart disease (1).
Flavonoids are the antioxidant compounds present in cocoa seeds. Research has shown that eating flavanol-rich foods, such as dark chocolate, can significantly increase blood concentrations of antioxidants (1).
In comparison, this study also showed that eating white or milk chocolate varieties did not have the same effect as the dark chocolate. It appears that milk inhibits the antioxidant activity of flavonoids and therefore dark chocolate is much better than other milk varieties.
Yes, it’s true – Cocoa has anti-cancer effects!
It is hard to believe this one, but it has been shown in the research that consumption of cocoa can help fight cancer cells and stop and slow their growth (2).
Although the research is limited, it suggests there are some positive benefits of cocoa on cancer growth due to the high concentration on antioxidant compounds. There is a lot more research being done so keep your eyes peeled.
Reduced Stress Levels
The biologically active compounds of chocolate promote alertness.
One study has confirmed that chocolate can alleviate stress levels (3). They found that after 14-days of dark chocolate consumption in moderate quantities, people with high levels of anxiety before the trial had a reduced level of stress compared to controls.
It is thought that dark chocolate reduces stress by promoting the calming neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.
Improved Blood Sugar Levels
Studies have shown that blood sugar levels are better in people who eat dark chocolate.
Insulin allows tissues to remove sugars from the blood and store them as glycogen and fat. Insulin activity depends on nitric oxide (NO) concentrations in the blood. More NO means better activity of insulin.
It has been shown that flavonoids can increase the concentration of NO which can help to reduce insulin resistance and therefore type II diabetes. Other studies have showed that blood sugars levels are lower and more stable with consumption of dark chocolate (4).
It is important to remember that moderate quantities of dark chocolate may be beneficial to your health in many ways such as improving heart health and stress.
Too much chocolate, however, can reverse these health benefits and become detrimental to your health. It is also important to remember that good quality dark chocolate is better due to the high-quality ingredients and greater health benefits.
So, when shopping for your chocolate treat, opt for a higher cocoa percentage in order to gain some of the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Yours in health,
- Serafini, M., Bugianesi, R., Maiani, G., Valtuena, S., De Santis, S. and Crozier, A., 2003. Plasma antioxidants from chocolate. Nature, 424(6952), pp.1013-1013.
- Carnésecchi, S., Schneider, Y., Lazarus, S.A., Coehlo, D., Gossé, F. and Raul, F., 2002. Flavanols and procyanidins of cocoa and chocolate inhibit growth and polyamine biosynthesis of human colonic cancer cells. Cancer Letters, 175(2), pp.147-155.
- Martin, F.P.J., Rezzi, S., Peré-Trepat, E., Kamlage, B., Collino, S., Leibold, E., Kastler, J., Rein, D., Fay, L.B. and Kochhar, S., 2009. Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects. Journal of proteome research, 8(12), pp.5568-5579.
- Grassi, D., Lippi, C., Necozione, S., Desideri, G. and Ferri, C., 2005. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 81(3), pp.611-614.
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