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Chocolate boosts brain power, beats stress and helps you sleep
How chocolate boosts brain power, beats stress and helps you sleep: The 10 reasons why you SHOULD be eating it (as if we needed any encouraging!)
1. YOUR BODY LIKES IT
Cocoa has a high concentration of flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Aim for a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao – the raw product – for the full benefit.
2. IT COULD WARD OFF DIABETES
High intake of flavonoids is linked to reduced insulin resistance and improved glucose regulation. Type 2 diabetes, which affects about four million people in the UK, is caused by insulin resistance. But it is important not to over-indulge as most chocolate contains a lot of fat and sugar.
3. YOU'LL JUST FEEL GOOD
Chocolate contains small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid used by the brain to make serotonin, which induces feelings of happiness. It also contains phenylethylalanine, which promotes feelings of attraction, nervousness and excitement.
Chocolate contains small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid used by the brain to make serotonin, which induces feelings of happiness
4. BEAT STRESS
Chocolate contains valeric acid, a relaxant and tranquilliser found naturally in valerian root, and although not so great for the waistline, the sugar in chocolate may also reduce stress. Sugar has been shown to have a calming and pain-relieving effect on humans and animals.
5. SOOTHE A TICKLY COUGH
Scientists have found that theobromine, a chemical present in chocolate, could be as good as conventional remedies for relieving a throaty tickle.
6. IT KEEPS YOUR HEART HEALTHY
A University of Aberdeen study of more than 20,000 middle-aged and elderly people found that those who consumed up to a small bar of chocolate a day had an 11 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 23 per cent reduced risk of stroke. Those who ate the most also had a lower weight and waist-to-hip ratio.
7. IT HELPS YOU SLEEP
Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium – an essential mineral that keeps body clocks running on time, say scientists. Researchers at Edinburgh and Cambridge universities believe that magnesium helps to control how cells keep their own form of time to cope with the natural environmental cycle of day and night.
A study found those who consumed up to a small bar of chocolate a day had an 11 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease
8. SWEET TREATS BOOST BRAIN POWER
A study found that eating any type of chocolate at least once a week may improve memory, concentration and problem-solving. Researchers from the University of South Australia tracked 1,000 people over 30 years and found that those who had regularly indulged performed better in a range of brain tests, including memory recall.
9. IT CAN HELP PREVENT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The Kuna Amerinds, who live on isolated islands off Panama, drink on average five cups of cocoa-based beverages a day and include ground cocoa beans in many of their recipes. A study found that they had lower blood pressure than members of their society who had left the islands. It is worth noting that these beverages would pack quite a cocoa powder punch, so drinking five cups of Galaxy or Nesquik Hot Chocolate is unlikely to do any similar favours.
10. IT PROTECTS SKIN
Dark chocolate may act as a mild sunscreen. A 2009 study found that eating 20g of high-cocoa-percentage chocolate every day for three months allowed adults to withstand double the UVB rays before their skin started to redden, compared to those who ate ordinary chocolate. However, the British Skin Foundation warns that no one ingredient can replace normal sunscreen.