In keeping with the spirit of Easter and the imminent chocolate binge I thought I would find some research that will make us all feel slightly less guilty when we overindulge in chocolate in the next few days.
1. Chocolate can boost memory – A study at Columbia University has found that chocolate improved scores in memory tests in a cohort aged 50-69, to the extent that they had the memory of someone 10 or 20 years younger. However, this only worked if you ate INSANE amounts of chocolate…. I think I could definitely manage that though.
2. Dark chocolate is a source of antioxidants – Research has found that the antioxidant activity of dark chocolate is actually really high, with some studies finding it a better antioxidant than fruits such as blueberries, cranberry and pomegranate.
3. Chocolate can sort out your PMS – Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) can allegedly increase the release of the hormone serotonin, which improves your mood at your ‘time of the month’. I’m not totally convinced on the evidence for this one, but I know I am definitely a nicer person after some chocolate, so maybe there is some truth here, even if it is just a psychological effect. While we are on the subject – dark chocolate has high levels of iron and magnesium, which can be lacking during menstruation, which helps to explain why women crave chocolate on their period and why it can make us feel better.
4. Chocolate can sort out your cholesterol – Trials have found cocoa powder to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad one) activity and overall levels of LDL, while increasing HDL levels (the good one). This is partly due to the antioxidant activity of cocoa. Reducing LDL and increasing HDL leads to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, therefore chocolate is super important for a healthy lifestyle.
5. Chocolate can lower blood pressure – Chocolate contains compounds called flavanols, which can act directly on the walls of your arteries to stimulate the production of nitric oxide.The nitric oxide relaxes the artery walls, so blood flow is stimulated and blood pressure is lower. Studies found this effect to be small but significant.
6. Chocolate can reduce stroke risk – A large study in Canada has found that chocolate eaters were 22% less likely to suffer from a stroke than non-chocolate eaters. Chocolate eaters who had suffered a stroke already also had a better outcome being 46% less likely to die from a stroke.
Of course chocolate is full of fat and sugar etc that we know is really bad for us, but I choose to ignore that evidence for the next few days and focus on research that says chocolate is basically essential to our health.
Till next time,