Chocolate has a common association with negative health effects due to its high fat and sugar contents. However, recent research has found that there are some elements of chocolate that can provide health benefits. More specifically, cocoa, its main ingredient, can potentially provide both physical and mental perks.
Can Chocolate be Healthy?
Cocoa has been found to be a high source of antioxidants, meaning it can prevent the oxidation of other molecules in the body, thereby keeping cells healthy. This means that the higher the cocoa content, the more benefits there are, so rich, dark chocolate is the best option for a chocolate treat when it comes to your health.
How Do Antioxidants Work?
To understand antioxidants, first you need to understand free radicals. Free radicals are atoms that form naturally when you exercise and break down food. Unlike other atoms, however, free radicals are missing some electrons, thereby making them unstable. To try to stabilise, they attack stable molecules in the body in an attempt to steal their electrons. This creates a chain reaction of free radicals creating more free radicals, and can cause cell damage through this process, known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is thought to be one of the contributing elements of numerous diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and AMD (age-related macular degeneration). Antioxidants, however, are molecules that are stable enough that they can afford to give one of their electrons to a free radical, stopping the process of oxidative stress by stabilising the last free radical in the chain. Fruit and veg are rich in antioxidants, which is one of the many reasons that it’s so heavily encouraged to eat your five a day. But it’s nice to know that cocoa could provide this specific benefit too, if you eat it in moderation.
The Physical Benefits of Chocolate
On top of the antioxidants, a recent review
also points out that cocoa contains biologically active phenolic compounds. In small doses, therefore, it’s possible that consuming chocolate that’s high in cocoa could: • Lower levels of cholesterol • Lessen cognitive deterioration with age • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems In fact, research by The BMJ (British Medicine Journal) suggests that chocolate could lower your risk of heart disease by up to a third
, as well as a 29% reduction in the chance of having a stroke. There is also currently ongoing research into how chocolate might positively affect numerous conditions, including atherosclerosis and oxidative stress, as well as how it could regulate blood pressure. Most of this research is still very new, however, and more needs to be done to confirm that the right kind of chocolate can positively impact your health.
The Mental Benefits of Eating Chocolate
If the physical perks of dark chocolate aren’t enough, there’s also evidence to suggest that chocolate increases your serotonin level, giving you a chemical happiness boost on top of the joy you might already feel from indulging in a comfort food. It’s well-known that many common mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are connected to serotonin deficiency
, as serotonin is an important neurotransmitter for regulating mood, and is most widely associated with happiness, focus, and calmness. According to research
, it’s possible that part of the reason we love chocolate so much is that it can give us a boost of serotonin through its carbohydrate content. This is because the carbohydrates found in chocolate can increase the amount of tryptophan, an amino acid, entering the brain. The more tryptophan that passes through the brain, the more your body creates serotonin. However, this is only part of the reason. A review from 2020
suggests that the many reason that a lot of people feel satisfied eating chocolate is the result of cravings. Fatty acids and biogenic amines in chocolate are actually drug-like properties and are what can make chocolate addictive in the short-term.
Treat Yourself to Chocolate Collagen with Sleep
While there are some benefits to eating chocolate, it’s important to be aware that these perks link more to cocoa than a chocolate bar in its entirity, as those often include other sources of fat and sugar that make them bad for your health in large quantities. Fortunately, you can indulge in the flavour of chocolate while receiving more health benefits thanks to our double chocolate and salted caramel flavoured collagen supplement, Sleep
. The best part is that it’s naturally flavoured with cocoa powder and coconut powder, giving it a naturally sweet, indulgent taste. Sleep is our collagen supplement packed full of amino acids that aid restful sleep.Overnight, Sleep does a little bit of everything. It regulates melatonin to improve your sleep cycle and calms the central nervous system to help you fall asleep, but it also benefits your hair, skin, nails, joints, and more. From stimulating hair follicles to improving your connective tissue and joints, find our more about Pura’s Sleep collagen powder
to receive your hit of health, and chocolate. Pura Sleep provides all these benefits with no added sugar or artificial sweetners, and at only 35 kcal per serving.