3 New Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate
Chocolate has all but been elevated to superfood status. And the benefits of chocolate keep rolling in.
So here are three more reasons why you may not want to be too quick to break that chocolate habit. (As long as you're hitting the dark stuff.)
- Chocolate makes you smarter. Ample research suggests that the flavonols in dark chocolate increase cerebral blood flow, which in turn may trigger the creation of new blood vessels and brain cells. And a new study shows that older adults performed better on cognitive tests after eating small portions of the sweet stuff. Talk about some major benefits of chocolate (and a nourished noggin)! (Here's why opting for semisweet or unsweetened chocolate may be even better for your brain.)
- Chocolate improves heart health. Although more research is needed to confirm this one, a new study shows that regular chocolate eaters who had heart disease were less likely to die following a heart attack compared with the people who didn't treat themselves to the dark and dreamy stuff. (Here's more on heart-health benefits of chocolate.)
- Chocolate has a cavity-fighting compound. Okay, so you don't necessarily want to trade in your toothbrush for a chocolate bar. But some interesting new research shows a compound in chocolate -- theobromine -- may be just as good as fluoride at hardening tooth enamel. So the compound could find its way into toothpastes and mouthwashes one day. Until then, keep in mind that most commercially prepared chocolate has lots of sugar in it. Get healthier teeth and gums with these three easy dental tricks.
Don't Go Overboard
Despite the benefits of chocolate, you don't want to o.d. on it lest you do your waist and blood sugar more harm than good. Learn why just one Hershey's Kiss worth of chocolate may be all you need to lower your blood pressure.
Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. Nurk, E. et al., Journal of Nutrition 2009 Jan;139(1):120-127.
Chocolate consumption and mortality following a first acute myocardial infarction: the Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Program. Janszky, I. et al., Journal of Internal Medicine 2009 Sep;266(3):248-257.
A neural network analysis of theobromine vs. fluoride on the enamel surface of human teeth: an experimental case study with strong implications for the production of a new line of revolutionary and natural non-fluoride based dentifrices. Sadeghpour, A., Dissertation Abstracts International 2007;68(7) suppl. B.