By Jacob Gerdes, Arizona State Nutrition Communications Student.
Cravings for a sweet treat may nag at us occasionally and normally we feel the need to restrict ourselves because of the perceived health implications sugary treats may have. We must take back control and allow ourselves to responsibly indulge, and if you choose to indulge in dark chocolate then you are actually benefiting your health more than you may be aware.
According to an article published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, there is extensive evidence that cocoa-rich dark chocolate has an abundant amount of flavonoids which are pigments found within the cocoa plant that act as a potent anti-oxidant providing protection from cardiovascular disease. Another article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition list that a short-term benefit of dark chocolate is a significant increase in insulin sensitivity helping normalize blood sugar levels.
Nitric Oxide is a compound the body produces to dilate the blood vessels causing an increase in circulation. At one point in time, many researchers argued whether or not the evidence supporting the increase in the bio-availability of Nitric Oxide from dark chocolate was significant, however, the association is now relatively solidified.
Recently, researchers out of Kingston University discovered a new opportunity for athletes to utilize dark chocolate for their competition. The study found that due to the effect on nitric oxide in the body, blood vessels dilate which decreases oxygen consumption allowing endurance athletes to work for longer periods. This discovery is significant for any cyclist or runners trying to increase their performance.
Endurance athletes are not the only individuals that will benefit from this rich treat. Everyone could use some dark chocolate in their lives.
When looking for dark chocolate to purchase, think low sugar, low fat, and the higher cocoa content the better. The taste preference is similar to coffee, some like it dark and some prefer some cream and sugar; just know that darker is better. Once you have made your choice, treat yourself to the recommended serving on the package or a little more if you’re really feeling the cravings! You can bake with it, melt it over oatmeal, or eat it by itself. The choice is yours!
Now go out and get yourself a guilt free treat. Enjoy dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth while bettering your health!
Another Dark Chocolate Article from Fill Your Plate!
- Galleano M, Oteiza PI, Fraga CG. Cocoa, chocolate, and cardiovascular disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. Published December 1, 2009; 54(6): 483–490. Accessed April 24, 2016. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797556/
- Grassi D, Lippi C, Necozione S, Desideri G, Ferri C. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. Published March 2005; 81(3):611-614. Accessed April 24, 2016. URL: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/3/611.full.
- Kingston University. Eating dark chocolate as a daily snack could help boost athletic performance. ScienceDaily Website. Published April 19, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2016. URL: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160419120151.htm.