A big shout out to all the chocolate lovers in the house!
We have good news for you guys about dark chocolate. Some of the recent researches show that dark chocolate contains a big amount of stress-relieving substances which are beneficial to both your mind and body. From now on, if someone ever stops you from eating chocolates while going through an emotional breakdown, just show them this blog!
Whether it's on top of ice cream, filled with peanut butter or inside a cookie, chocolate is how most of people satisfy their sweet tooth. Stirring the souls of chocolate lovers is cutting-edge research demonstrating the health benefits of chocolate. But is this true? Nathalie Sessions, wellness dietitian at Houston Methodist, says the research is 100% correct. Small amounts of dark chocolate are beneficial — but it's not intended to be a part of your daily eating plan.
Nathalie says that for chocolate to come with health benefits, it must be 70% cacao or higher, and low in sugar. A milk chocolate bar may contain as little as 10% cacao, while a dark chocolate bar could contain up to 90%. Dark chocolate has about half the sugar of milk chocolate, making it much more satisfying (meaning you eat less of it) than any other. In addition, the added sugar in milk chocolate can mask other flavors and leaving you to crave more.
Dark chocolate also has more fiber and minerals than milk chocolate. And the benefits don't stop there.
1. Chocolate is a good source of antioxidants – Cacao, known as the rawest form of chocolate, contains high level of antioxidants. In fact, cacao is the top scorer on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale, which attempts to quantify antioxidant levels in foods. Antioxidants are powerful molecules which help in:
• Lowering blood pressure
• Protecting the brain
•Increasing blood circulation
The best sources are cacao powder or cacao nibs, which can be used for recipes in place of regular chocolate chips or added to foods such as smoothies.
2. Chocolate improves brain function – Chocolates contain a chemical compound known as phenylethylamine or “the love compound" and serotonin (a neurotransmitter which helps to keep us calm) — both of which are naturally occurring substances in the body that evoke feelings of euphoria.
3. Chocolate reduces stress – Chocolate contains flavanols, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in cocoa and other plant-based foods which lowers the stress-causing cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol is the body's primary stress hormone. Among its many functions, it prepares you to respond when you face a stressful situation. Although this is good, if your cortisol levels stay high due to chronic stress, it can actually harm your health. Dark chocolate might help blunt some of those effects. So enjoy a small piece of a good-quality dark chocolate right before a stressful event could be an excellent strategy to help curb your anxiety.
4. Chocolate is a healthy treat — when eaten in moderation – So the next time you bite into some dark chocolate, savor it — and know it is good for you. Good-quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao (70% or more) is still calorie-dense and, therefore, is not intended to be a daily component of our meal plans. As with all foods, practicing moderation and mindfulness are recommended to get the full benefit and enjoyment out of eating. Eat it slowly, and enjoy all the flavors, textures and taste sensations.
Types of Chocolate and Their Relationship with Stress
When it comes to mental health and stress, researchers have suggested that intake of more content of cocoa is beneficial. Which simply means, the darker the chocolate, the lower the stress. You can go and get your favorite chocolates from the next door supermarket. As chocolate contains high calories, we suggest you eat chocolate accordingly. Although always remember try not to overindulge in chocolate.
1. Bittersweet Chocolate – These chocolates are also referred to as “Extra Dark” chocolates. Benefits of bittersweet chocolates are:
• High on Nutrition
• Lowers blood pressure
• Rich source of antioxidant
• Lowers blood pressure
• Protects skin from the sun
• Improves brain functioning
Remember, darker the chocolate, lower the stress.
2. Dark Chocolate – Remember the darker you choose, the more antioxidants you’ll get, but there always needs to be a balance between eating palatable dark chocolate and getting the health benefits. Benefits of dark chocolate are:
• Reduces the risk of stroke
• Improves cognition
• Improves blood sugar levels
• Prevents from cancer
• Makes your skin glow