Just walk into a candy store and breathe in. Aaaah, the unmistakable sweet scent of chocolate fills the nostrils, calms the nerves and causes the salivary glands in the back of the mouth to start watering. Sometimes I also think just inhaling the wonderful, decadent aroma of a chocolate confection helps me to gain a pound or two. But, did you know about chocolates wonderful benefits?
- The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation. Just breath the sweet scent in and feel the tension float away. Just like a mug of hot chocolate in your hands on a cold night before bed, allows the stresses of the day to fade and allow a more slumberous sleep.
- Studies have shown that the theobromine in chocolate may help restore minerals to teeth much more effectively than fluoride, thereby protecting your teeth. You still need to brush them, especially after eating chocolate.
- Dark chocolate increases the production of endorphins, which are neuropeptides that make you feel good. The sweet also contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. So mood is improved.
- Studies have shown that dark chocolate improves cognitive performance in the elderly. This may have to do with improved blood flow and circulation for several hours after consuming cocoa.
- Chocolate reduces stress hormones which helps avoid the breakdown of collagen, which means fewer wrinkles. The flavanols found in dark chocolate also help protect the skin from sun damage.
- Eating an ounce of dark chocolate 20 minutes before a meal helps curb your appetite. Eating another ounce after a meal will curb your cravings for other, less healthy sweets.
- Dark chocolate prevents the clumping of blood platelets, temporarily decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure by encouraging the lining of the arteries to produce Nitric Oxide, which causes arteries to relax. Less resistance on the arteries equals lower blood pressure.
- Chocolate promotes a healthy gut by feeding the good bacteria found in the gut, much like that of probiotics, onions and garlic.
So, the next time guilt shows up when going for a piece of chocolate…think about all the benefits instead of the guilt! Oh, but keep in mind, portions need to be kept to an ounce (moderation is our friend) and that the benefits mostly come from dark chocolate, as it has not been given those healthy doses of added sugar, milk or butter like milk chocolate. Remember when choosing chocolate for its benefits: bitter is better!
Until our next meeting, peace and joy …and chocolate! Deanna