February is National Chocolate Month, which is a great excuse to eat more of the sweet treat. Chocolate is candy though, and that is often blamed for obesity, tooth decay and other bad things because of the sugar and fat content. Still there are benefits to chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Chocolate comes from Cacao beans, and the higher concentration of cacao the darker the chocolate. A percentage of 70, which is dark and starts to taste bitter, is the most healthy level medical experts say. The more milk and fat added dilutes the concentration of chocolate as it makes it sweeter. That also dilutes the health benefits.
Health officials agree that too much fat or sugar is a bad thing, but they also agree chocolate has some surprising health benefits. Keep in mind though, that it is the cacao that is providing the benefit, so the higher the concentration, the more benefit you will receive. Here are seven ways in which chocolate can benefit your body.
Chocolate boosts your brain power
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, and helps increase blood flow to the brain. The more blood flow the brain gets, the sharper it gets, so it helps in the short term. Scientists also believe it may help elderly people with memory and brain power. It increases verbal skills in some studies.
Chocolate is good for your libido
An Italian study showed that regular consumption of chocolate increased sex drive and function. It releases the same feel good chemicals that are released between two lovers when they are making love, the study said. So that may be the reason chocolate has become part of Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate helps to lower blood pressure
Chocolate makes people feel good, so that may have a psychological affect of relaxation which would lower blood pressure. There is also some chemistry involved. There is a chemical in chocolate that produces Nitric Oxid, which relaxes arteries an that allows blood to flow more freely through the body, and that reduces blood pressure. The effects are mild, scientists say, but every little bit helps.
Chocolate is good for heart health
If Chocolate assists with blood flow, then it would make sense that it helps the heart. Studies show that over time chocolate can reduce build up of things that obstruct blood flow to some degree, and that also improves heart health.
Chocolate helps to reduce bad cholesterol
There is a good and bad cholesterol. Chocolate increases the good and reduces the bad, which is a great deal for your whole body.
Chocolate improves your skin
While it is increasing blood flow, your skin also benefits from having more blood near the surface. This can prevent some damage from the sun, studies show.
Chocolate contains anti -oxidants
Studies show chocolate has great cleansing power, which is what an anti oxidant does. It is even more effective than many berries that are known for having anti oxidant powers.
As with any food, it is best to consume chocolate in moderation. Keep a bar of dark chocolate on hand for when you start craving a sweet treat.