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I’m not a big dessert eater. Yes, I know. Cue the torches and pitchforks.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy an after-dinner snack — it’s just that my vices run more to the salty treats than the sweet.
But, my husband on the other hand has a sweet tooth, and nothing cures his cravings when it comes to dessert like chocolate.
In fact, he’s such a chocolate fiend that I tease him that one day he’ll turn into a giant chocolate bar.
You know what though?
My husband is onto something.
It turns out that if you’re going to choose just one dessert to get your sweet fix, it should be chocolate.
That’s because two new studies show that eating chocolate (specifically the dark variety) comes with four huge health benefits.
Here’s why you and I should be eating dark chocolate regularly…
Packed with flavonoids
While you may have already heard that chocolate can be healthy for you, the School of Allied Health Professions and Loma Linda University took the first look at impact of large amounts of cacao (the beanlike seeds that are used to make cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate) in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in people over short or long periods of time.
You see, previous studies have focused on the influence of the sugar content in dark chocolate.
On the other hand, these newest studies honed in specifically on what health benefits you can gain from eating chocolate bars with at least 70 percent cacao.
Here’s what they found…
Eating dark chocolate:
- Reduces inflammation in your body (think joints that don’t ache, lower risk of heart problems, improved digestion and even reduced risk of cancer)
- Boosts your immune system – Kiss those colds goodbye
- Lowers your stress levels (this is good for your mental well-being and your waistline)
- Improves your brain plasticity – Improved memory, focus and ability to think are the three big benefits of this one.
And, it even…
- Elevates your mood – Say goodbye to the blues and hello happiness!
The studies even found that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on your cognition, memory, mood, immunity, stress and inflammation dark chocolate can have.
But, you may be wondering, how in the world eating chocolate can provide so many amazing health benefits.
Well, the experts say that the answer to that question lies in the massive punch of flavonoids that cacao delivers.
You see, the flavonoids found in cacao (the plant chemicals that give fruits, veggies and other plants their color) are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health.
So, break out that dark chocolate bar and eat up!
Other rich sources of flavonoid antioxidants
And, if you’re ready to get your flavonoid antioxidant fix and grab all of those big health benefits, you don’t have to stop at dark chocolate.
Other rich sources of those antioxidants can be found in superfruits like:
- Goji berry (the most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth)
- Acai fruit (from the Amazon rainforest)
- Mangosteen (a sweet fruit from Southeast Asia that’s well-known for its “overabundance” of antioxidants)
- Pomegranate (the beautiful red fruit that fights free radicals and promotes healthy circulation, and reduces inflammation)
Better mood, memory and immunity along with decreased stress and inflammation are the big benefits that come from the flavonoids in dark chocolate. Just make sure that the chocolate you choose is at least 70 percent cacao (the higher the better) and grab more antioxidant power from the superfruits above to really take your health to the next level.
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- Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation — Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center
- Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Colorectal Cancer — Annual Review of Microbiology