(Natural News) Good news for chocolate lovers: dark chocolate is not only good for your brain, but it also makes you happy, according to an article published on the website BeBrainFit.com. Chocolate is enjoyed by the whole world. In America alone, people consume three billion pounds of it each year. It is rare to find something delicious that’s healthy at the same time. Here are nine reasons why you should not feel guilty about eating dark chocolate once in a while:
- Dark chocolate can make you happy: Dark chocolate increases the production of endorphins — feel-good chemicals in the brain. Endorphins also reduce pain and fight the negative effects of stress. In addition, chocolate is one of the greatest food sources of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to the neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood. Moreover, chocolate is the primary dietary source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound called the “bliss molecule.” Dark chocolate also contains the “love drug” compound called phenylethylamine.
- Dark chocolate promotes blood flow to the brain: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that promote blood flow to the brain, which in turn, enhances memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills.
- Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants: Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals. The brain is highly vulnerable to free radical damage, such as wrinkles, age spots, and sun damage on the skin. Free radicals also damage other parts of the body, such as the brain.
- Dark chocolate enhances focus, learning, and memory: Dark chocolate can improve these brain functions because of its flavonoids. It also contains some caffeine, which also helps improve memory, mood, and concentration.
- Dark chocolate relieves stress: Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol. (Related: Dark chocolate is good for fighting metabolic syndrome, unless you stress about it.)
- Dark chocolate helps fight food cravings: Chocolate, particularly high-quality dark chocolate, helps reduce junk food cravings of all kinds. As a result, it can help you make healthy food choices, reduce calorie intake, and lose weight.
- Dark chocolate protects the brain: Dark chocolate can help protect the brain because of its antioxidants, flavanols, and flavonoids. Research has shown that it can help cut the risks of strokes, dementia, and age-related brain decline. It can also improve mild cognitive impairment.
- Dark chocolate promotes good gut bacteria: It may be unusual, but dark chocolate acts as a prebiotic, increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Dark chocolate can make you smarter: As mentioned earlier, dark chocolate improves learning, focus, and memory — but it does not end there. Research has shown that eating dark chocolate protects the brain and enhances brain plasticity, which is a factor that has been associated with increased intelligence.
Choosing the right dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is a mixture of cocoa, fat, and sugar. Although deemed healthy, not all “dark chocolates” are actually healthy. Here are some tips you can follow to make sure the dark chocolate you are about to consume is the best quality, rich in antioxidants, and delicious:
- It must be rich in cocoa: The best dark chocolate always has cocoa listed as the first ingredient and must have at least 70 percent of cocoa. Cocoa may be listed in other forms, such as cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and cocoa butter.
- It should not have unnecessary ingredients: Do not buy dark chocolate that contains unnecessary ingredients, such as trans fat, milk, artificial flavorings, and high amounts of sugar.
- Avoid alkalized dark chocolate: Dutching, also known as alkali processing, involves treatment with alkali. It is used to change the color of the chocolate and reduce its bitter flavor. Research has also shown that this process greatly reduces the amount of antioxidants in chocolate.
- Buy dark chocolate made from fair-trade and organic cacao beans: Organic chocolate is more likely to be high-quality, ethically sourced, and pesticide-free.
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Read more news stories and studies on the health benefits of eating dark chocolate by going to Cacao.news.