This Valentine’s Day whether your date gifts you a box of chocolates or you shamelessly buy it on your own for your rom-com and wine marathon, it’s a win-win for your health. Chocoholics can rejoice that science has got their back when it comes to catering to their sweet tooth. Eating the right kind of chocolate, in moderation, can actually be healthy based on its chemistry, according to The Economist’s YouTube video, “Why Eating Chocolate Is Good For You.”
Americans consume an average of 9.5 pounds of chocolate every year. This is less than half the amount in Switzerland, where the average person eats 19.8 pounds annually. On a weekly basis, according to the National Confectioners Association, the average American eats chocolate twice a week, with 89 percent of women and 85 percent of men saying they indulge at some point.
Moderate indulgence of this decadent treat can offer a variety of benefits when it comes to heart health. The cocoa beans in chocolate are packed with flavonoids, which are natural antioxidants. Epicatechin, in particular, can help the body get rid of free radicals and persevere cell membranes while warding off cardiovascular disease. However, the flavonoids do degrade when they are heated or processed. They are also removed from commercial chocolate because they are bitter.
When it comes to health benefits, not all chocolate is created equal. Raw cocoa and dark chocolate are able to offer the most for your heart health. They contain a stimulant called theobromine. “By increasing the heartbeat and dilating blood vessels,” says The Economist, “it can lower blood pressure.” Moreover, it can boost “good” rather than “bad” cholesterol and stop plaque building up on artery walls.
Theobromine also does the lungs good when it comes to alleviating symptoms of asthma and suppressing coughs. A 2005 study published in the FASEB Journal found theobromine in cocoa could also have a cough-suppressant effect. The stimulant is able to suppress capsaicin-induced cough with no adverse effects.
Most surprisingly, chocolate may be able to fight tooth decay more effectively than fluoride. It is better at remineralizing and hardening tooth enamel. The chocolate extract could help provide other alternatives to fluoride-based oral care products.
Eating a little bit of chocolate seems to go a long way when it comes to your health.