Chocolate is good for us. It reduces hypertension, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, boosts our energy and improves our mood. In fact, chocolate contains flavonoids, antioxidants also found in red wine, which improve circulation by lowering blood pressure. When taken in small doses, it becomes a valuable ally for our hearts.
Properties for the body
This is confirmed by a joint study published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) by the University of Düsseldorf, Harvard Medical School and Mars Incorporated. Two groups of healthy males were given two types of chocolate drink: one high in epicatechin, the flavanol which was the object of the study, and another which tasted similar but had a much lower percentage of the antioxidant molecule. The members of the first group experienced increased blood vessel relaxation. In the second step, the groups were given one of two drinks each lacking the chocolate aroma: while the first was epicatechin-rich, the second was a placebo drink. As confirmation of the beneficial properties of the flavonoid contained in chocolate, those drinking the first beverage had the same benefits as those who had drunk the epicatechin-rich chocolate drink in the first step.
Another beneficial property of chocolate is its ability to improve mood. Those who seek solace from the pangs of love in a bowl of chocolate gelato know all too well what this is about. It is more than just a matter of enjoying breaking one’s diet: chocolate in fact acts as a catalyst by releasing endorphin, a molecule produced by the brain when our mood is one of joy and euphoria. Chocolate also stimulates the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter also known as the “happiness hormone” that gives us a sense of well-being and relaxation. Confirmation of these benefits come from the medical world: antidepressant drugs based on serotonin are becoming increasingly widespread. Chocolate also contains anandamide, a substance that stimulates happiness and euphoria, as well as methylxanthine, which boosts energy and improves concentration. And while the phosphorus in fish is important for improving memory, eating chocolate is even better because it contains about twice as much. Finally, dark chocolate contains no cholesterol and, contrary to popular belief, helps prevent tooth decay! Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that cocoa is effective at countering the acids from the sugar found in chocolate desserts. That's why we simply cannot resist a bowl of chocolate gelato after a meal or snack.