Theobroma Cacao, the Latin name for chocolate, means “food of the gods” not by chance. Dark chocolate has a long history of use as a healing plant, mood enhancer, and also as an aphrodisiac. So if you have a penchant for chocolate (intended as dark), you’re in luck.
You have probably read that chocolate directly affects the brain, causing the release of the neurotransmitters of “happiness”. They are serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Like coffee, dark chocolate is also a powerful source of poly antioxidant phenols.
But chocolate lovers also know that chocolate is a useful tool for improving performance in lesser-known ways. Cocoa has a systemic effect on the body. The benefits range from healthy blood flow improvement to the beneficial changes made to intestinal bacteria!
Here are some of the most important benefits of choco (in addition to the taste, of course).
Eating chocolate can improve your mood and, according to studies, can boost your mood even in stressful circumstances. Drinking a cocoa drink before a stressful situation can improve overall cognitive performance and also report less “mental fatigue”.
Dark Chocolate Makes You Eat Less
Eating choco reduces appetite. A study showed that eating dark choco two hours before a meal limited appetite. There was a 17% lower calorie intake than the group in the study that had consumed milk chocolate.
Maintains a healthy cardiovascular system
Regular consumption is also associated with better cardiovascular health. In particular, the polyphenols in cocoa increase HDL cholesterol (the good one) and decrease LDL cholesterol.
A study also found that the particular flavanols in cocoa are responsible for the increase in nitric oxide, which is essential for vascular health. The bioavailability of nitric oxide is a determining factor for vascular health. This is because it regulates dilation, signals cell growth, and inflammatory response as well as protects blood vessels from clotting.
Equally important, moderate glucose uptake works as a vascular insulin moderator. So it’s no surprise that dark chocolate consumption also improves healthy insulin sensitivity levels.
Cellular rejuvenation (anti-aging)
Cocoa can improve the creation of new mitochondria. Chocolate contains the epicatechin flavanols, which are responsible for mitogenesis. In a study in mice, epicatechin treatment improved exercise performance by approximately 50 percent and increased resistance to muscle fatigue by approximately 30 percent.
Finally, chocolate also contains theobromine, a molecule that acts like caffeine. Theobromine is the main cocoa alkaloid and gives the mind and body a boost in several ways. Although theobromine is present in other plants, it is highly concentrated in dark chocolate, in the order of 235-500mg every 50g. Its effects are similar to those of caffeine.
Theobromine has an interesting molecular structure. Promotes energy in the body, but does not exert its effects on the central nervous system. This is why it provides a ‘sweet’ type of energy. It also takes longer to get rid of it from the body, allowing for a more prolonged effect.
Chocolate gives immediate cognitive effects (mostly from caffeine and theobromine). Theobromine can also ultimately have a significant effect on mood. A study showed that subjects were able to see improvements in their moods while taking theobromine, even in low doses.