Any true chocolate connoisseur can tell you that this delicious “food of gods’ is good for your mind and your spirit. Medical studies and research have demonstrated that chocolate is good for physical as well as mental health. Recent studies have revealed that chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and contains more polyphenols and flavonols than fruit juice.
Before we move on to the beneficial antioxidants in chocolate, let us find out more about antioxidants.
Anti-oxidants are substances that fight against free radicals preventing diseases and slowing down the physical effects of aging. Free radicals are highly chemically active substances that lead to degradation at cellular level. Anti-oxidants prevent the oxidation of free radicals thereby reducing the stress and damage on body functions.
Recently, there has been awareness about foods that are high in anti-oxidants. These foods are called super foods or fruits. Studies have found that the anti-oxidant capacity in cocoa powder and dark chocolate is much higher than in fruits and dark colored veggies. When compared the amount of anti-oxidants per serving of dark chocolate, cocoa and fruit juices, researchers found that the anti-oxidant capacity (ORAC) of dark chocolate and cocoa is much higher than of fruit juices.
Chocolate and anti-oxidants
Chocolate is derived from fruit pods of cocoa tree. These cocoa beans are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and phenolic phytochemicals (anti-oxidants). Chocolate contains high amount of the anti-oxidant, catechins, epi-catechins, pro-anthocyanidins and other flavanols.
Most of the health benefits of chocolate are due to the presence of anti-oxidants.
Clinical studies have shown the beneficial effects of chocolate in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. According to studies, eating small amount of chocolate helps in lowering blood pressure. It promotes overall heart health by reducing heart arrhythmias, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks and lowering blood pressure. The flavonols in chocolate improve the blood flow in the arteries, thereby lowering the blood pressure. They also repair the damage done to the walls of the blood vessels due to unhealthy lifestyle.
Research has shown that flavonols found in chocolate help in reducing cell damage at skin level. This helps to prevent formation of wrinkles caused due to pollution and sun damage. Anti-oxidants prevent the oxidative damage of the cells at the epidermis and dermis levels, hence, helping in reducing the appearance of age spots, wrinkles and fine lines.
Improves joint health
Degradation at cellular level is the main cause of joint pain and inflammation in old age. It has been found that this is the result of oxidation by free radicals. Anti-oxidants in chocolate promote cellular health at joint level, thereby reducing the risk of arthritis and other joint diseases.
According to a study done at Oxford University, flavonoids present in dark chocolate help in improving memory and cognitive abilities.
Now you can indulge in your sweet tooth without feeling guilty about it. But remember, as chocolate is higher in calories and fat, it should be consumed in moderation.
Researched and written by Genevie Garcia from Chocolate by Genevie, an online chocolate shop for people who would like chocolates delivered. Genevie Garcia is a traditional UK chocolatier dedicated to developing artisan chocolates and cocoa recipes.