Easter in isolation and some big emotions because of COVID-19 restrictions may have seen your pantry filled with more chocolate than usual. Chocolate often gets a bad rep for being sugary and unhealthy but it actually has some benefits when it comes to mental health.
Psychologically speaking, the darker the chocolate, the bigger the benefit for the brain. The magic compounds are flavanols and the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols – so grab that bar of 85% cocoa and pop it in your basket.
Flavanols have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be very helpful for the brain under certain conditions. A concussion is inflammation in the brain so it makes sense that an anti-inflammatory diet would be beneficial – including a healthy dose of dark chocolate!
Flavanols help to reduce blood pressure – high blood pressure can lead to a stroke (rupture in the brain). A 2011 study linked increased cocoa-rich chocolate consumption with reduced risk of stroke. Research has also linked flavanols with helping to reduce memory loss in the senior population.
Everything in moderation but some of us eat our favourite chocolate as a treat. When we taste something good or do something nice for ourselves it tends to lift our mood. Chocolate can give us a boost of serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with happiness and mood regulation. That may explain the secret stash we’ve got behind reception!
So all in, chocolate (specifically the dark kind) is good for blood pressure, memory, and mood with anti-inflammatory properties that benefit issues like concussion. If they aren’t reasons to stock up on dark chocolate treats, we don’t know what would be.
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