Many of us, at one time or another, have wished that chocolate were a healthy food – especially in the middle of a kale salad! And while we probably won’t see chocolate on the menu at the health club’s juice bar, everyone’s favorite confection is actually much better for you than you probably knew.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Science backs this up. The most extensive medical study of chocolate was done by French doctor Herve Robert, who published the book Les Veritus Santé du Chocolat. He put forward the argument that chocolate was not a significant cause of such maladies as migraine headaches, acne, obesity, or tooth decay – common charges from chocolate naysayers.
To the contrary, Robert argued that some of the main components of chocolate – caffeine, theobromine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine – make it a tonic, an anti-depressive, and and anti-stress agent that enhances pleasurable activities.
But very few true chocolate lovers really need a scientific background to know how chocolate makes them feel! Just a couple of bites, and your mood changes. The positive effects are real!
Stop by our chocolate store in downtown St. Paul and sample some of our handmade delicacies. Let the stress and fatigue of your workday melt away with every bite. We look forward to seeing you!
The Many Health Benefits of Chocolate
Need to keep an eye on your health? How about some chocolate? Not only is chocolate a delicious treat, but it's actually very healthy for you – if you have the real stuff, that is, not candy.
Here are some of the major benefits of consuming chocolate regularly.
Chocolate Contains Antioxidants
Cocoa has many flavonoids, which are antioxidants; by weight, cocoa can be better than almost all fruits and other foods. This includes blueberries, "superfoods" such as Acai berries, red wine, and some vegetables. Antioxidants are important for many functions of the body, from maintaining healthy skin to warding off certain types of cancer.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate help reduce oxidative stress in your immune system, helping it recover from its lifelong fight against disease-causing cells. The antioxidant effects of chocolate can also help counteract brain damage induced by a stroke.
Surprisingly, chocolate is a powerful anti-sickness food!
Chocolate Might Help Prevent Cancer
Experts believe cocoa contains cancer-fighting substances. Pentameric procyanidin, also called pentamer, can disrupt the spread of cancer cells.
While the support is negligible, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers discovered the positive impacts of chocolate on cancer proteins.
Chocolate Helps Prevent Blood Clots
An amazing benefit of chocolate is its ability to help prevent blood clots, which prevents different types of strokes. The cocoa inside chocolate has a biochemical action that protects the inside lining of your blood vessels, which works to prevent the stickiness that causes blood clots.
Chocolate Reduces the Risk of Stroke
Studies completed in Finland found that the risk of stroke could be reduced in men by as much as 17% through the regular consumption of chocolate. This may be due to the way that chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow. Combined with exercise, you can reduce your risk of stroke.
Chocolate Can Help Bad Cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol, there's "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and "good" cholesterol (HDL). Chocolate has been shown to reduce the amounts of bad cholesterol while increasing the amounts of good cholesterol.
Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure
Cocoa flavanols also lower blood pressure, similar to ACE inhibitors. These flavanols stimulate your body’s nitrous oxide production, lessening your heart’s strain. While the effects are small, continuous chocolate consumption reduces your chance of heart disease.
Chocolate Is a Stress Reliever
You may have heard that chocolate stimulates the same reward centers in the brain as the sensation of falling in love. Chocolate actually stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytocin, which is also released when cuddling with a beloved partner – which is why we term some of our products “the male (or female) replacer.”
Additionally, if you are pregnant, the stress-lowering qualities of chocolate can help you if you’re having a rough day.
Chocolate Is Fiber & Mineral Rich
Believe it or not, chocolate is not nutritionally empty, as some people believe. Dark chocolate bars contain substantial amounts of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. These minerals are vital to your body in order to be healthy.
Chocolate Can Be a Weight Loss Tool
Chocolate can even be used to lose weight. Because chocolate has such a high-fat content, it naturally triggers the satiation portions of the brain that tell an individual they are full.
Having a little chocolate before a meal can actually be beneficial. Many nutritionists are switching towards high-fat foods as a way to get the body to feel satisfied to decrease appetite.
Chocolate Can Promote Liver Health
Because chocolate has positive effects on blood pressure, it’s also healthy for your liver. Livers have many functions, including metabolizing fats, proteins, and carbs, activating enzymes, and storing glycogen, vitamins, and minerals.
Modern research supports the positive impact chocolate has on liver-based blood flow. It can even prevent long-term liver damage if consumed regularly.
Chocolate Controls Cough
Many claims that chocolate can prevent coughing (and we’ve tried it). Theobromine contained within the chocolate seemingly reduces the vagus nerve activity. When activated, the vagus nerve triggers coughing, but its sensitivity can be lowered if consistently treated. Though only a small benefit, it’s a benefit nonetheless.
If you’re sick or have a tickle in your throat, consider trying some chocolate. It tastes better than cough syrup!
Chocolate Stimulates Brain Cells
Researchers feel that dark chocolate can shield your brain cells, too. While chocolate contains many physical benefits, there’s reason to believe it can make you marginally smarter. Dark chocolate also boosts the production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain called endorphins.
Endorphins are the same chemicals that are released when you work out, which is why you feel so good after exercising. Combined with chocolate, you can be blissful!
Chocolate Helps the Gut
Chocolate is made out of Cacao, the raw unprocessed version of cocoa. The chemical makeup of cacao and cocoa is found to help promote friendly bacteria in your gut, which will aid in reducing inflammation.
Your gut health is closely related to your entire body's overall physical and mental health. So, do your gut a favor and grab some dark chocolate!
Chocolate Can Improve Your Athletic Performance
Chocolate hosts another helpful chemical called epicatechin. Epicatechin is responsible for the production of nitric oxide in your blood. More nitric oxide in your blood makes for better circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen needed for exercise.
So, if you’re getting ready for a 5K, make sure you add chocolate to your diet!
Chocolate Makes You Happy
This is the most important reason why chocolate is good for you. While there are plenty of health benefits to eating chocolate, one health benefit is often overlooked. The most important is that chocolate makes you happy!
Authentic chocolate hosts a chemical called tryptophan within its structure. This chemical helps you release the hormone serotonin, which elates you. So the next time you’re feeling down, grab some Legacy Chocolates to cheer you up!
Legacy Chocolates: Great Tasting, Healthy Chocolate
If you’re good to your body, your body will be good to you. Sure, chocolate alone will not overhaul your whole body's health, but it’s a great-tasting way to start.
Remember: Real chocolate is not candy! Its benefits outweigh any negative health impacts. Along with a balanced diet, a little chocolate per day can be surprisingly beneficial to your long-term health.
Check out the healthy chocolate selection at Legacy Chocolates, and boost your body’s capabilities. Created with natural ingredients, our artisan chocolate shop offers all-natural, handmade chocolate that does not contain preservatives or corn syrup.
Shop online or visit us at our store, located in the historic Endicott building in downtown St. Paul today!