Chocolate Day is the perfect occasion to savour your favourite bar of chocolate with your favourite person. Chocolates are universally loved by children and adults alike and are one of the most popular sweet treats. The irresistible and addictive quality of chocolate could also be partly attributed to phenylethylamine (PEA), a chemical that impacts the brain’s chemistry and triggers the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones.
While excessive consumption of any kind of chocolate isn’t ideal, dark chocolates are better than milk chocolates when it comes to health benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, particularly flavanols and polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress in the body, linked to various chronic diseases and aging.
Dark chocolate can help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, contributing to improved blood flow. Regular consumption of dark chocolate may even be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
In addition to heart health benefits, dark chocolate also has a positive impact on mood enhancement. It contains compounds that trigger the release of endorphins in the brain, which act as natural mood lifters. It may even stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being.
Studies have linked flavanols in dark chocolate to improved cognitive function and brain protection. Regular consumption of cocoa may enhance memory and learning abilities. Dark chocolate has a lower glycaemic index compared to milk chocolate, making it a better option for blood sugar regulation.
Dark chocolate also contains important minerals like magnesium and copper that play a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function. The antioxidants in dark chocolate contribute to skin health by protecting it from UV damage and improving blood flow, resulting in a healthy complexion. Dark chocolate has also been found to have cough-suppressant properties and may even help reduce stress.
Although dark chocolate offers several potential health benefits, it is important to be mindful of certain disadvantages. Dark chocolate is calorie-dense and excessive consumption can contribute to weight gain. Some commercially available dark chocolates may contain added sugars, which can lead to health issues like diabetes and dental problems. Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, although in smaller amounts compared to coffee, so individuals sensitive to caffeine should monitor their intake. The sugar content in chocolate can contribute to the development of cavities if oral hygiene is not maintained.
On the occasion of Chocolate Day 2024, Abhilasha V, Chief Clinical Nutritionist & HOD- Cloudnine Group of hospitals in Bengaluru, shares these potential health benefits of dark chocolate. She also advises consuming dark chocolate in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
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