Delicious chocolate treat contains amazing health benefits

Amber Lee Carnahan, Managing/Health & Tech Editor

chocolateBy Managing Editor: Amber Lee Carnahan

With the season of trick-or-treating and gorging on candy among us, it’s natural that thoughts should turn towards the impact the festivities will deal on health. Chocolate is a commonly adored sweet, and the statement that chocolate is good for the health is often used as an excuse to eat an abundance of the decadent treat. However, there is a limit to the positive attributes of chocolate.

One positive aspect of chocolate is that it has proven to help keep the heart healthy. According to the Mayo-Clinic, a growing numbers of studies suggest that chocolate could be a heart-healthy choice. Flavanols in cocoa beans contain antioxidant effects that help to reduce the cell damage involved in heart disease. These Flavanols are most prevalent in dark chocolate, which would seem to be the healthiest choice of chocolate. In addition to reducing cell damage, Flavanols also help to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

Dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy due to its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk. In addition to being heart-healthy, chocolate also has been found to decrease the risk of stroke, according to a Swedish study done in 2011 that found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than nine grams of chocolate.

Chocolate also has an array of miscellaneous advantages. According to Huffington Post, chocolate is a good snack to eat as it fills you up more. Dark chocolate may also reduce the craving for salty, sweet, and fatty foods. In opposition to the myths that chocolate causes acne, dark chocolate is actually healthy for the skin due to a type of antioxidant called flavonoids. Flavonoids offer a little protection from harmful UV sun rays. Also, ironically, chocolate may play a part in fighting diabetes. While sweets are at the roots of diabetes, a 2005 study found that regularly eating chocolate increases the sensibility of insulin, which in turn reduces risk for diabetes.

Besides having physical benefits, chocolate is also known to boost the mood. According to the Cocoa Symposium, the smell of chocolate might increase brain waves, which would result in a higher state of relaxation. Additionally, the carbohydrates in chocolate raise the brain’s serotonin levels, leading to a sense of well-being. The phenyl ethylamine in chocolate also greatly affects the mood.

While chocolate has a lot of good benefits, it is important to eat in moderation. Chocolate is still candy, and is consequently abundant with calories, saturated fat, and sugar. As long as sound judgment is used, chocolate can be used and seen as a healthy snack. So with this Halloween’s candy bag, don’t be afraid to enjoy those chocolate bars for as long as they last.