Can dark chocolate keep the doctor away?

Although chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension, chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants. Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.

It is believed that dark chocolate has more benefits and may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.

 

One study, published in “The Journal of Nutrition” suggests that chocolate consumption might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as “bad cholesterol.”

 

The researchers set out to investigate whether chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) have any effect on cholesterol levels.

 

The authors concluded that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing plant sterols and cocoa flavanols as part of a low-fat diet, may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.

Research suggests that a little dark chocolate might boost oxygen availability during fitness training.  / Net  photos

The researchers found that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.

Results of a lab experiment, published in 2014, indicated that a cocoa extract, called lavado, might reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extract could help slow symptoms such as cognitive decline.

Some researchers suggest that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third. Higher levels of chocolate consumption could also be linked to a lower risk of cardio metabolic disorders.

Canadian scientists, in a study involving 44,489 individuals, found that people who ate one serving of chocolate were 22 per cent less likely to experience a stroke than those who did not. Also, those who had about two ounces of chocolate a week were 46 per cent less likely to die from a stroke.

According to a study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, eating 30 grams (about one ounce) of chocolate every day during pregnancy might benefit fetal growth and development.

Findings published in “The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” suggest that a little dark chocolate might boost oxygen availability during fitness training.

Chocolate can also help a person to see better. University of Reading researchers were curious to see if dark chocolate flavanols could actually improve vision as they knew it certainly improved blood circulation in general. They decided to do a small experiment and gave two groups of volunteers some white and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate groups were doing better on vision tests afterwards.

In a study published in October 2017,  the Journal of Community and Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, they found out that  the flavonoids in dark chocolate reduced oxidative stress, which scientists think is the primary cause of insulin resistance. Therefore, by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin, resistance is reduced, and in turn the risk of diseases like diabetes decreases.

Some researchers suggest that dark chocolate may play a role in controlling appetite, which in turn could help with weight loss.

Some studies, such as one published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, have shown that people who eat many flavonoids or antioxidant-rich chocolate develop fewer cancers than those who don’t consume them.

However, scientists note that dark chocolate is high in calories (150-170 calories per ounce) and can contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. It also contains a moderate amount of saturated fat, which can negatively affect blood lipid levels.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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