Pretty much everybody likes chocolate. What’s not to like? It’s chocolate. That in itself is the one-word definition of “deliciousness” that ought to be printed in every modern dictionary, ever. But, more than being simply delicious, chocolate also deserves a spot in the definitions of “life-saving” and “healthy”. And here’s why.
#1. Chocolate fights oxidization.
Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate that’s at least 70-80% (preferably raw) cacao, is incredibly anti-oxidizing. You’ll have trouble finding very many foods that match or beat our delicious bean in free-radical combat, and that’s a serious feat. Excessive free radicals (courtesy of pollution) are what lead to cell death, rapid aging, and even cancer.
#2. Chocolate can prevent heart attacks.
It’s been known for a while that cacao is really heart friendly, but it isn’t just dark chocolate that seems to affect your heart’s health. Although the flavonoids in cacao seem to link to lower risks of heart disease, it may be that the fat and calcium in milk chocolate also affects your heart in a healthy way. It could also hinder the absorption of flavonoids — the jury is still out.
#3. Chocolate can also save you from hypertension.
Chocolate also helps keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. Flavonoids positively affect the elasticity of blood vessels, helping undo the restriction of blood flow, and can lower “bad” cholesterol and promote “good” cholesterol, leading to less plaque in your circulatory system.
#4. Chocolate keeps your brain healthy.
Dementia is really, really scary. However, studies show that there are ways to maintain your cognitive abilities well into your senior years — and among these ways is eating chocolate. For one, high quality dark chocolate contains a ton of flavonoids — but it also contains cacao butter, a mixture of saturated and monounsaturated fats that your brain craves.
#5. Chocolate lowers your cancer risk.
Afraid of the big C? Well, have some of the little c to help. Instead of working as actual anti-oxidants like other compounds, flavonoids are a part of the compounds your body treats as a “threat”, meaning flavonoids increase your body’s own natural defenses against cancer and oxidation. They’re far more effective than dietary sources of anti-oxidants, and flavonoids also help filter out carcinogenic heavy metals in your body.
#6. Chocolate boosts your immune system.
Aside from kicking your anti-oxidation process up a notch, chocolate contains compounds that promote anti-inflammatory cells and positively affect the efficiency and production of antibodies. Regular, moderate consumption of dark chocolate leads to a decrease in inflammatory agents in the body.
#7. Chocolate helps you keep your weight down.
Obesity is a huge problem, and it’s directly linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Although you could be fat and fit, statistically speaking you’re more likely to be obese due to an unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise. Changing your lifestyle to one aimed towards longevity almost always means dropping out of the obesity zone, and cacao’s nutrient density and flavonoid content can help tremendously.
#8. Chocolate may lower your risk of depression and suicide.
Chocolate can dramatically improve your mood, and not just because of its sugar content. Polyphenols in cacao may indicate that eating dark chocolate positively affects anxiety and mood — and suggests that further study may prove cacao-derived polyphenols as helpful in combating clinical depression.
#9. Chocolate can be your friend in the fight against diabetes.
It sounds counterproductive, but only if you’re not a fan of bitter chocolate. Chocolate bars aren’t a good treat for a diabetic, so go for raw cacao nibs, cacao powder, or at least 80% cacao bars, and reap the benefits of flavonoids improving insulin sensitivity.
#10. Chocolate may protect against UV rays and melanoma.
Quercetin, a flavonoid abundant in cacao and other types of plants, possesses anti-cancer properties that protects against the risks of skin cancer.
#11. Chocolate may prevent dehydration.
Flavonoids combat the secretion of excess fluids, essentially inhibiting diarrhea. When paired with the right gut bacteria, they also bring about other health benefits. The key to reaping these gastro-intestinal benefits is pairing cacao with a diet of probiotic and prebiotic foods, like fermented soy, yogurt and sourdough.