Health Benefits of Chocolate

with Amanda Kilduff

Chocolate is enjoyed by almost everyone in this world; therefore it’s about time we talked about what benefits we are getting from the delicious food. There are different chocolates to choose from: baking (unsweetened), dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.

Chocolate contains cocoa and it is the cocoa component of the food where the potential health benefits reside. Cocoa contains an antioxidant, called flavanol. Antioxidants act as protectors in the body against cell damage. Damage can happen from exposure to smoke or pollution, or naturally from the aging process. Including foods that are antioxidant-rich may improve health or delay the onset of various chronic diseases.

Chocolate has been reported to play a role with chronic disease prevention, including heart disease. Heart disease directly affects 2.4 million Canadians. Extensive research continues to strive for evidence around food and health benefits. Currently, there is no standard recommendation for the health benefits of eating chocolate or cocoa to reduce the risk of heart disease in healthy adults. However, there may be an association with including baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate, or cocoa powder in your lifestyle with improving blood circulation. More long-term research is needed to see the outcomes of chocolate on heart health.

Lastly, chocolate also contains a phenylethylamine (PEA), which is associated with mood improvement. The amount of PEA in chocolate is very minimal compared to the amount of PEA needed to produce an impact on mood in lab research. On the other hand, chocolate also contains carbohydrates and caffeine, which can also positively impact mood. Although, perhaps the positive mood associated with chocolate is simply the learned response from past experience other than a nutritional one.

 

 

Resources:

Cardiovascular Health – Chocolate. (2010, March 1). Retrieved from: http://www.pennutrition.com

Heart Disease in Canada. (2017, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/heart-disease-canada.html

Should commercially available chocolate or cocoa products be recommended to healthy adults to reduce the risk of CVD? (2017, June 16). Retrieved from www.dietitians.ca

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