By Myprotein Writer
Chocolate is one of those foods that fills us with joy when we’re eating it, yet causes us to feel guilty post-consumption – especially when we can’t fasten our jeans and are convinced that those stupid bathroom scales must be wrong… As you can’t possibly have put on so much weight in such a short amount of time.
Yes, chocolate is a decidedly wicked treat that is certainly not diet – or health for that matter – friendly. Or is it?
In actual fact, some forms of chocolate are not only considered healthy, but they’re actually classed as being ‘superfoods’ that can potentially assist with weight loss and improve your health.
How Can Chocolate Be Good For You?
Generally it is dark chocolate that is healthy, and that is because it contains more cocoa.
All chocolate is made from cocoa, but milk chocolates, and other chocolate you see on the high street, is enriched with added fat, creams, milks, butters, sugars, and various other additives and preservatives.
Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more, is the ‘good stuff.’ Cocoa can be incredibly beneficial for our body, and to help emphasise this point, here’s a look at a few of the surprising health benefits of cocoa.
#1 Mood Booster
When we eat chocolate, it helps us to feel happy and relaxed, which is largely down to the natural cocoa content found inside. You see, cocoa has been found to be an ‘mood-enhancer,’ which is all due to its molecular structure.
Cocoa contains natural ingredients that work all kinds of alchemy on the brain (1), triggering the release of all sorts of weird and wonderful chemicals that do wonders for the mood. Cocoa for example, contains an ingredient known as anandamide, which is responsible for enhancing the mood and leading to feelings of Euphoria and happiness.
On top of that, it also contains Phenethylamine, also known as PEA, which is a neurotransmitter which triggers the release of neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
When we think of foods and beverages such as green tea, blueberries, and various other fruits and vegetables, one of the main reasons why these foods and drinks are considered to be so healthy and good for us, is the fact that they’re rich in antioxidants.
Cocoa however, has actually been suggested to contain more antioxidants than green tea and general health-boosting. Antioxidants not only strengthen and boost the immune system, they also contribute to help ridding the body of toxins and free-radicals.
Free-radicals can attack our cells on a molecular level and alter their chemical structure via oxidation, which may caus them to mutate into cancerous cells.
Cocoa is considered to be a heart-friendly ingredient (3) that may contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Again, this is all down to antioxidants, these ones known as flavanols, and flavanoids (2).
Flavanoids provide anti-inflammatory benefits to the body and have been found to improve circulation, reduce hypertension, strengthen the heart, and provide protective benefits in the process.
As well as this, cocoa is also rich in polyphenols – another type of antioxidant, that can reduce LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol that hardens the arteries and causes them to become blocked with fatty deposits and build-ups.
#4 Immune Health
The immune system is the human body’s first and last line of defence against illness and disease, and as cocoa contains more than 700 protective compounds, including numerous antioxidants and minerals, it proves extremely beneficial for the immune system.
The stronger the immune system, the healthier a person will be, and the less likely they will be to develop an illness or disease.