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Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. A sure-fire stand-by in times of stress, a reliable source of consolation when life has let us down. And a mood-enhancer and romance-inducer in more positive circumstances. But is it at all healthy.
If you scoff lots of it, obviously not. But there are a host of medically proven ways in which chocolate. which is to say dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of around 70% or more — really is good for us.
There is a continuous research, and experts have already found that chocolate is good for the heart, circulation, and brain. And it has been suggested that it may be beneficial in such major health challenges as autism, obesity, and diabetes.
Gram for gram, dark chocolate, in particular, contains even higher concentrations of antioxidants than apples, black tea, and red wine. Antioxidants from natural sources like cocoa counteract cell damage. Which leads to visible signs of aging and the risk of developing certain chronic and debilitating diseases.
Chocolate can alleviate anxiety, according to a study during which anxious people who ate 40 grams of chocolate (about five squares) every day for two weeks experienced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than before the intervention. It’s not magic: Turns out chocolate contains several bioactive compounds that increase your levels of anandamide, a lipid that turns on the brain receptors responsible for chilling you out.
Male cyclists who added about 1 1/2 squares of dark chocolate to their diets every day without tweaking their workouts improved their sprint speeds and stamina more than a control group who added white chocolate, which contains less epicatechin, a naturally occurring substance found in cocoa that study authors think may improve blood flow, energy metabolism, and cardiac functioning.
Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium – an essential mineral that keeps body clocks running on time, say, scientists. Researchers at Cambridge universities believe that magnesium helps to control how cells keep their own form of time to cope with the natural environmental cycle of day and night.
A study found that eating 20g of high-cocoa-percentage every day for three months allowed adults to withstand double the UVB rays before their skin started to redden, compared to those who ate ordinary cocoa. However, the British Skin Foundation warns that no one ingredient can replace normal sunscreen
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