Top 5 reasons to indulge in a chocolate treat

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 15:23

Liji Varghese

Are you keeping a distance from indulging in your favourite chocolate treat, only because all that you are worried about is putting on those extra pounds? Surely, you are not aware of the wonders that a piece of chocolate can do to your health.

Hold on; don’t jump on to grab a bar of chocolate yet. Your favourite milk chocolate or white chocolate may not give you the desired benefits. It’s the dark chocolate, that is power packed with health benefits and when taken in moderation can actually help keep your heart healthy, improve brain power and even help maintain a slimmer figure.

Here are the top excuses that make when indulging in a chocolate treat:

Keeps heart healthy: Dark chocolate (containing at least 60% cocoa solids) helps protect against cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. Flavanols present in cocoa produce a chemical in the body called nitric oxide which helps relax blood vessels making it easier for blood to pass through them. Moderate consumption of dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, "bad" LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart diseases.

Improves brain power: The antioxidants in dark chocolate help improve blood flow to the brain, thus enhancing your cognitive ability. In a study published in online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers found that drinking hot chocolate did help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking skills sharp.

Helps deal with mood swings: Dealing with terrible mood swings? Bite on a chocolate. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical our brain creates when one falls in love.  The magnesium content in chocolate aids relaxation; anandamide- a neurotransmitter- helps regulate mood, and phenylethylamine raises endorphin levels making you feel happier.

Helps manage weight: Unlike the popular assumption that eating chocolates can lead to weight gain, consuming dark chocolate in moderation can actually help you keep your BMI (body mass index) in check. Chocolates boost metabolism, thus balancing out the calorie intake. Rich in fiber, it can actually help keep you full for long, so you'll eat less. Chocolates may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

May help fight diabetes:  According to a study, eating dark chocolate improves the body's ability to metabolise sugar. The team concluded that flavanol was responsible for the effect because it neutralised potentially cell-damaging substances known as oxygen free radicals. However, commercial chocolates don’t have the same effect as they are high in calorie and fat content.

Despite all the health benefits of dark chocolates, researchers warn people to be careful about chocolate consumption. Anything in moderation would do no harm, so dig your way into the favourite dark chocolate treat.



First Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 15:43

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