Eat more (dark) chocolate: it’s good for you

by Ali on November 21, 2008

My bio on a recent interview (which you can find on the Ditch Diets Live Light site) explained that “[Ali] firmly believes that any healthy eating plan should allow room for chocolate.” So I thought the time was right for a post here on The Office Diet about some of the (purported) health benefits of chocolate:

Eating dark chocolate could help control diabetes and blood pressure

Eating dark chocolate could help control diabetes and blood pressure, Italian experts say. Researchers found eating 100g of dark chocolate each day for 15 days lowered blood pressure in the 15 person-study.

This is a small study, so I’d like to see more research done in this area. Also, 100g of dark chocolate contains around 500 calories – so this wouldn’t be a great diet to follow if you’re trying to lose weight!

Chocolate improves your mood

Study participants with atypical depression were more likely to crave chocolate, and they felt that chocolate had a definite positive effect on feelings of irritability, depression and anxiety.

The serotonin in chocolate is a mood-booster, but this study showed that people with “atypical depression” (which is a common form of depression where the sufferer “can still react positively to pleasing events while those experiencing melancholic depression cannot have a change of mood in response to external events”).

Chocolate can help prevent heart disease and cancer

Researchers in Scotland and Italy say dark chocolate has much better anti-oxidant properties. This means that it can protect the heart and arteries from oxidative damage, similar to the rust that develops on metal over time. Writing in the journal Nature, they said adding milk to chocolate may cancel out these health benefits.

The antioxidants in chocolate are more concentrated in dark chocolate (which is also slightly lower in calories), so go for a smallish bar of dark chocolate rather than a giant slab of milk chocolate.

My advice would be to enjoy dark chocolate as a treat, ideally by replacing unhealthier options (milk chocolate, or sugary/fatty snacks) – don’t use the health benefits of chocolate as licence to scoff a family-sized bar every day!

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