Do you ever reach for a chocolate bar when you’re down? Well, you’re not alone and there is good reason for it—chocolate has positive effects on mood. But that’s not all. Chocolate also has beneficial effects on brain performance and the heart.
Chocolate contains a high level of antioxidants thought to give chocolate its health benefits. A recent scientific review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology highlighted some of the positive effects of chocolate on the brain and heart. Chocolate helps improve blood flow by helping to dilate blood vessels, which is why chocolate has been found in many studies to help lower blood pressure. Blood flow to the brain is an important factor for brain health, and chocolate has also been found to help increase blood flow to the brain in a similar manner as it does in blood vessels throughout the body.
This increase in blood flow to the brain has been attributed to the improvement in brain and visual function, and improvement in mood found after the consumption of chocolate. Studies in animals suggest that chocolate may help prevent cognitive decline seen in old age, and human studies have found that older people who eat the highest amount of flavonoid antioxidants from chocolate, wine, and tea are less likely to experience cognitive decline compared to those people who do not consume these foods.
This week, if you love chocolate, make it a regular indulgence. Be smart about it though—choose dark chocolate, which contains the highest amount of healthy antioxidants, and find a chocolate that is low in sugar.