Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food for many of us and it lifts up our moods and senses almost instantly. To dive deeper into how this happens, the chocolate triggers the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that cause your pulse to speed up and give you a pleasant high feeling, rather like being in love. In addition the theobromine and phenylethylamine present in cocoa is believed to affect levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the body that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer and ease depression
So there is enough reasons why we can eat chocolates and not feel guilty about it. Research helps us to understand and believe that chocolate can be beneficial for health, when had in small portions.
1. Cardiovascular Health
Research suggests regular consumption of dark chocolate improves your cardiovascular health. It is believed that it helps regulates the function of heart and the insulin level.
2. Brain Health
Cocoa Flavanols are believed to reduce memory loss in older people. The anti-inflammatory qualities of dark chocolate have been found beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in a number of commonly enjoyed foods, including apples, pears, tea, cocoa, grapes, and blueberries
3. Protects Skin
The flavonols present in the dark chocolate is believed to protect against sunburns as the pores open up and the excess water content is let out, helps improve blood flow to the skin and in addition hydrates the skin.
4. Rich in Antioxidants
The darker the chocolate the better it is for your. Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins. Studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes (source). In addition further studies have shown that, cocoa reduces blood clotting and increases blood vessel flexibility.
5. Brightens the Mood
Chocolate is a magical tool that can change the mood of person in a single bite. As mentioned above cocoa contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. Phenylethylamine encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins that make you feel light and happy.
The above research make a good reason that will make you run the the supermarket and load packets of Dark Chocolate into your grocery cart. Keeping the good reasons in mind, we have to ensure a good balance in consumption.
If you are craving for sugars, try natural alternatives like fresh fruits and dry fruits. When when you crave for a chocolate, look for chocolate with a higher cocoa content - a dark chocolate for example.
And yes, keep slow and relish the chocolate until the last bite keeping in mind to eat only a small portion every time.
To celebrate the goodness of chocolate, here are some delicious chocolate recipes that you can make in your kitchen and enjoy them with your family.