You've probably heard that there are health benefits of dark chocolate, but what are they? You might not need any reason to eat chocolate, other than that it tastes good, but there are some definite perks to having some for a treat every day.
For decades women have claimed that eating chocolate makes them feel good and we certainly enjoy the indulgence. According to researchers these pleasant feelings aren't all in our heads. Provided you choose chocolate that is at least 70% cacao, you can reap these health benefits of dark chocolate with every single bite.
One of the best health benefits of dark chocolate is that it increases our levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of well being. And just thinking about eating chocolate can raise our levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain's reward and pleasure centers.
We need to remember not all created equal. Dark chocolate has been shown to be far more beneficial than milk chocolate. Dark Chocolate usually has less sugar, less fat, and fewer calories than milk chocolate (brands may vary). Since the taste of dark chocolate tends to be more intense, I find it satisfies my cravings more quickly, so I eat less. I don’t care much for milk chocolate anymore. It’s too sweet, and not satisfying. If you want to eliminate the sugar and fat completely, use cocoa powder. If I need to use a sweetener, I use honey.
Not only because it has less of what we don't want, but because it has more of what we do want: antioxidants, phytonutrients, and flavonoids found in chocolate are also found in beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables - especially the dark green leafy ones, like spinach and kale. You can find these awesome nutrients in dark chocolate so eat up!
There are many ways that dark chocolate can benefit your health. It lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association website, LDL cholesterol accumulates in our arteries, making it more difficult for our blood to flow freely. Experts believe HDL cholesterol acts as scavenger of LDL cholesterol, and carries it to the liver, where it’s broken down and passed from the body. This leads to improved blood flow, which is great for all aspects of your health.
Improvements of this kind starts a chain reaction of healthy side effects, like a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. When our blood flows more easily through our veins and arteries, it puts less strain on our hearts. Oxygen is delivered throughout our bodies more efficiently and we feel better.
Have you ever heard of some going for a walk or run to “clear their head?” There’s a scientific reason behind this metaphor. Putting a problem aside and getting our blood flowing can alleviate psychological pressure by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. We really do come back refreshed and better prepared to approach the problem.
During World War II, the Hershey Chocolate Company had exclusive rights to distribute chocolate to the troops. The Mars Chocolate Company copied a technique used during the Spanish Civil War in which small chocolate pellets were covered with a hard, sugary shell, so they wouldn’t melt in your hands In 1941, M&M's, in small cardboard containers, became part of military rations because the two companies worked together to manufacture this practical treat to men and women serving in the military. Civilians couldn’t buy M&M's when they were first produced.
Woman cannot live by chocolate alone, so I'm certainly not recommending giving up grains and beans, or fruits and veggies. But indulging some dark chocolate can be a not so guilty pleasure, with some healthy benefits. And now I’ll think of M&mMs as a reminder of Americans coming together to protect our freedom and help our allies in their time of need.