Mariusz Rajczakowski
Nutritionist
5 min read | 1 year ago

Why you should eat a dark chocolate every day?

Do you have a guilty conscience when turning into the confectionery aisle of a local market? Well it might not be all bad as there is some good in a specific chocolate.

Cocoa beans found in dark chocolate provide powerful health boosting properties.

A higher cocoa mass and cocoa butter content in the chocolate the better it is for your health (at least 70% of cocoa solids).

chocolate

If you carefully look at the ingredient list you should notice that the first ingredient should be cocoa mass/cocoa butter and not sugar.

The flavour of dark chocolate is not to everyone’s liking especially if your used to white or milk chocolate, if this is the case for you try sprinkling some in a dessert as the the taste will not be as distinct.

Let's have a look at 7 health benefits that my convince you to start eating dark chocolate:

1. Ease stress

Are you feeling stressed? Try some dark chocolate! A study from 2015 has proven that 40g of dark chocolate taken by the participants during a 2 weeks trial reduced urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism [1].

Also, a Similar study was shown that 50g of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate daily can buffers endocrine stress reactivity at the level of the adrenal gland, suggesting a peripheral stress protective effect of dark chocolate consumption [2].

Furthermore, another study showed that consuming 40 g of Dark and Milk chocolate daily during a period of 2 weeks appear to be an effective way to reduce perceived stress in females [3].

2. Reduce caugh

Normally caugh is a protective, primitive reflex in healthy individuals, however when persistent can be debiliating and impair quality of life.

We then take the over the counter medicines which contains i.e. Codeine. However we might take a dark chocolate instead which contains theombromine.

According to Usmani et al studies theombromine found in cocoa is nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent cough when compared with codeine, currently considered the best cough medicine [4].

3. Lower blood pressure and normalize diabetes' factors

High blood pressure is an improtant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) which leads to about 50% of cardiovascular events worldwide and 37% of cardiovascular related deaths in western populations.

Flavonol-rich cocoa products can increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide which promotes vasodilatation and therefore blood pressure reduction [5].

Recent data suggest that flavonol-rich chocolate and cocoa products may have a small but statistically significant effect in lowering blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg in the short term [5].

The study undertaken by Rostami et al (2015) has shown that high polyphenol chocolate can be effective in improving TG levels in hypertensive patients with diabetes and decreasing blood pressure and fasting blood sugar without affecting weight, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance or glycemic control [6].

Grassi et al has proven that short-term intake of dark chocolate is followed by a statistically significant increase in insulin sensitivity and decrease blood pressure in healthy persons [18].

4. Reduce a risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke

Epidemiological studies suggest that cocoa rich products can reduce the risk of CVD [5].

Study performed by Flammer et al has shown that dark chocolate induces coronary vasodilatation, improves vascular function, and decreases platelet adhesion 2 hours after consumption.

The instant effect was linked to mechanism of oxidative stress reduction and changes in serum epicatechins levels [8].

Similar study undertaken by Engler M.B et al also confirmed that dark chocolate can improves endothelial function and increase the epicatechin concentration in healthy adults [9].

Meta-analysis conducted by Buitrago-Lopez A. et al (2011) has shown that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in CVD and a 29% reduction in stroke compared withe the lowest consumption [10].

5. Improve mood and cognitive function

Epicatechin, the main flavonoid present in cocoa and chocolate improves various aspects of cognition in animals and humans.

Chocolate also induces positive effects on mood and is often consumed under emotional stress [14].

choley et al conducted a study to examine the effects of cocoa flavanol ingestion on cognitive performance, anxiety and mental fatigue.

The study confirmed that flavonol-rich cocoa beverages significantly improve cognitive function and reduced mental fatigue relative to placebo group [12].

Strandberg T.E et al have suggested a link between psychological health and chocolate preference in which elderly man preferring chocolate reported feeling less lonely and depressed and happier that man preferring other types of candy [11].

Another study performed by Smit et al has demonstrated that the combination of caffeine and theobromine in the proportions found in cacao has psycho-stimulant effects [13].

6. Improve vision

Field et al observed in their studies that acute cocoa supplementation enhances the visual performance of young adults. Cocoa improved reading of low contrast letters, and detection of motion.

Autors suggested that it might be caused by increased blood flow to the retina and brain [15].

7. Reduce appetite and regulate energy intake

Massolt and colleagues demonstrated that the smell of chocolate could suppress appetite in humans.

Chocolate eating and smelling both resulted in appetite suppression with no relationship seen between appetite levels and insulin, GLP-1, or CCK levels.

The smell of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) resulted in a satiation response that was inversely correlated with ghrelin levels. As higher levels of ghrelin increase food intake and increase fat mass [16].

Sorensen L.B and Astrup A. has proven that a dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake compared with milk chocolate [17].

Golomb et al in their study has found the association between higher chocolate consumption frequency and lower body mass index.

There is no clear explanation for that results, but experimental findings in rats suggest that epicatechin present in cocoa increase mitochondrial biogenesis and capillarity, muscular performance, and lean muscle mass and to reduce weight without changing calories or exercise [19].

References
  1. . Francois-Pierre J. Martin, Serger Rezzi, Emme Pere-Trepat, Beate Kamlege, Sebastiano Collino, Edgar Leibold, Jurgen Kastler, Dietrich Rein, Laurent B. Fay, Sunil Kochhar. Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects. J.Agric. Food Chem. 2015, 63 (45), pp 9927-9935
  2. etra H. Wirtz, Roland von Känel, Rebecca E. Meister, Angela Arpagaus, Sibylle Treichler, Ulrike Kuebler, Susanne Huberk Ulrike Ehlert. Dark Chocolate Intake Buffers Stress Reactivity in Humans. Journal of the American College of Cardiology ; 63 (2014), 21. - S. 2297-2299
  3. hmed Al Sunni, Rabia Latif. Effects of chocolate intake on perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. Int J. Health Sci (Qassim) 2014 Oct; 8(4): 393-401
  4. smani O.S., Belvisi M.G., Patel H.J., Crispino N., Birell M.A., Korbonits M., Barnes P.J. Theobromine inhibits sensory nerve activation and cough. The FASEB 2005, Feb, vol 19., no 2: 231-233
  5. Ried K., Sullivan T.R., Fakler P., Frank O.R., Stocks N.P., Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15; 8;
  6. ostami A., Khalili M., Haghighat N., Eghtesadi S., Shidfar F., Heidari I., Ebrahimpour-Koujan S., Eghtesadi M.; High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves blood pressure in patients with diabetes and hypertension. ARYA Atheroscler. 2015 Jan; 11(1): 21-9
  7. lachopoulus C., Aznaouridis K., Alexopoulus N., Economou E., Andreadou I., Stefanadis C.; Effect of dark chocolate on arterial function in healthy individuals. Am J Hypertens. 2005 Jun, 18(6): 785-91
  8. lammer A.J., Hermann F., Sudano I., Spieker L., Hermann M., Cooper K.A., Serafini M., Luscher T.F., Ruschitzka F., Noll G., Corti R.; Dark chocolate improves coronary vasomotion and reduces platelet reactivity. Circulation 2007 Nov 20; 116 (21): 2376-82
  9. ngler M.B., Engler M.M., Chen C.Y., Malloy M.J., Browne A., Chiu E.Y., Kwak H.K., Milbury P., Paul S.M., Blumberg J., Mietus-Snyder M.L. Flavonoid-rich chocolate improves endithelial function and increases plasma epicatchin concentration in healthy adults. J. Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Jun; 23 (3): 197-204
  10. Buitrago-Lopez A., Sanderson J., Johnson L., Warnakula S., Wood A., Di Angelantonio E., Franco O.H. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2011; 343
  11. Strandberg T.E., Strandberg A.Y., Pitkala K., Salomaa V.V., Tilvis R.S., Miettinen T.A., Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men. Eur J Clin Nutr.2008;62:247–253.
  12. Scholey A.B., French S.J., Morris P.J., Kennedy D.O., Milne A.L., Haskell C.F., Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance during sustained mental effort.J Psychopharmacol.2010;24:1505–1514
  13. Smit H.J., Gaffan E.A., Rogers P.J. Methylxanthines are the psycho-pharmacologically active constituents of chocolate.Psychopharmacology.2004;176:412–419
  14. Nehlig A., The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013 Mar; 75(3); 716-727
  15. Field D.T., Williams C.M., Butler L.T. Consumption of cocoa flavonols results in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions. Psychology & Begaviour 2011 June, Vol 103, Issues 3-4; 255-260
  16. Massolt E.T., van Haard P.M., Rehfeld J.F., Posthuma E.F., van der Veer E., Schweitzer D.H., Appetite suppression through smelling of dark chocolate correlates with changes in ghrelin in young women.Regul Pept.2010;161:81–86.
  17. Sorensen L.B., Astrup A., Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake. Nutr Diabetes 2011 Dec 5
  18. Grassi D., Lippi C., Necozione S., Desideri G., Ferri C. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons.Am. J. Clin. Nutr.2005;81:611–614.
  19. Golomb B.A., Koperski S., White H.L., Association between more frequent chocolate consumption and lower body mass index. Arch Intern Med 2012; 172(6): 519-521

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