how dark chocolate is good for health


dark chocolate

how dark chocolate is good for health   

Probably, there is no person who has not heard about the benefits of dark chocolate. It can improve mental performance and mood. This delicacy is even allowed to be eaten while writing school Olympiads, since this product can stimulate an increase in brain activity. 

However, there are only a limited number of randomized studies proving how chocolate affects the brain, and the results are highly mixed. 

Therefore, let's see if everyone's favorite sweetness can really be called a means to improve brain activity. 

Why dark chocolate is useful and features of its composition

At the moment there are several types of chocolate, namely black (dark), milk, white and chocolate with various fillings. The most useful is dark chocolate. It contains a large amount of flavanols - special substances of plant origin with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. 

After consuming the treats in question, flavanols are absorbed internally and are found in the blood plasma after 30 minutes, and their maximum concentration is reached after 2-3 hours. 

These substances enter the brain and cause widespread stimulation of the brain perfusion (blood supply). They also stimulate angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), neurogenesis (the formation of neurons), and changes in neuronal morphology, mainly in areas involved in learning and memory.

These changes in the body lead to improved brain function and memory. A person begins to memorize information much faster, solve various problems, and also remember important data.

The benefits of chocolate can be seen both with its one-time use and with prolonged use. This fact has been confirmed in two scientific studies. Based on their results, scientists came to the following conclusions:

Short-term consumption of dark chocolate stimulates mental activity. In 2011, a group of young people was divided into two subgroups, one of which was given to eat a bar of dark chocolate, and the other white. After 2 hours after consuming the treat, all the young people were given a list of logical tasks to complete. The subgroup that ate dark chocolate did much better than the subgroup that ate white chocolate.

Long-term consumption of dark chocolate can improve memory. A 2014 experiment in people between the ages of 50 and 65 showed that long-term consumption of chocolate with lots of flavanols can improve memory. The subjects were also divided into two groups: the first ate dark chocolate every day for 3 weeks, and the second did not eat it at all. As a result, the first group had better results on memory tests. 

In addition, a 2017 experiment in Italy involving older adults who consumed the flavanols found in chocolate and cocoa for 3 months confirmed the benefits of these antioxidants. As a result, scientists have concluded that flavanols increase attention, mental performance, memory, fluency, and are most beneficial for those with mild cognitive impairment or onset of memory loss. 

Thus, eating dark chocolate in old age is very beneficial for brain activity, but you need to eat it in moderation. 

What else is the use of chocolate and can it harm the body?

Bitter chocolate: the benefits and harms of your favorite treat

You may notice that if you eat a piece of chocolate or chocolate candy, your mood improves. But why is this happening and what other beneficial changes in our body are the result of using the treat in question?

Next, we will tell you about 5 facts confirming its usefulness.

1 How Chocolate Affects Mood

Dark chocolate increases the production of endorphin hormones. They bind to opiate receptors in the brain, causing a feeling of euphoria, after which the person's mood is elevated. However, this state does not last long. In addition, endorphins reduce pain and the negative effects of stress. Chocolate also increases levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter needed for a good mood.

The sweetness in question is the main dietary source of tryptophan, a precursor amino acid of serotonin, a neurotransmitter for happiness and positive mood. Chocolate is also the main food source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound called the "bliss molecule." Anandamide provokes feelings of pleasure in a person. 

Interestingly, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a compound called the "love drug" because it induces arousal in the brain similar to falling in love. That is, the feeling of being in love and the feeling after eating chocolate are somewhat similar.  

 2 How does chocolate affect the brain and does it increase blood flow to it?

The antioxidants flavanols in dark chocolate improve memory, concentration, reaction time and problem solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. This effect of treats on brain activity is observed in both young and elderly people. 

A Harvard Medical School study found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate increased blood flow to the brain by 2-3 hours. The increased blood flow to the brain speeds up thinking and a person solves various tasks at a high speed.

And also, due to mental work, calories are burned, which can be replenished with the help of chocolate. 

3 Dark chocolate helps prevent aging of brain cells

For normal functioning, the brain needs about 20% of the total oxygen consumed by the body. Free radicals are harmful oxygen molecules that negatively affect brain cells.

This process can be compared to how a cut apple is oxidized by free oxygen radicals.

The same negative processes are stimulated by free radicals in the human brain. And the antioxidants flavanols protect the cells of this organ and prevent premature aging of brain cells.

Cocoa powder, the main ingredient in chocolate, contains more antioxidants than any other food, such as blueberries, pomegranate or acai powder. 

4 eating dark chocolate helps relieve stress 

Chocolate contains a significant amount of magnesium. This element suppresses the release of the hormone cortisol and thus helps prevent stress. Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is beneficial for anxiety and stress.

Increasing it in the diet can improve memory, concentration, mood, sleep and stress tolerance. 

Since magnesium is not produced on its own in our body, it must be consumed externally. One dark chocolate bar contains half of a person's daily magnesium requirement.

 5 Increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestines

One of the most unusual benefits of the beloved sweet is that it increases the number of life-giving bacteria in the gut.

Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are two of the most common beneficial bacteria in the human gut. These live microorganisms are found in most probiotic supplements. Dark cocoa powder, from which everyone's favorite delicacy is made, can also be called a prebiotic (it contains the waste products of bacteria).

Thus, dark chocolate is good for both the brain and the intestines.