For many of us, we don’t need another excuse to enjoy a piece of chocolate every once in a while, and as it turns out eating chocolate may actually help support mental health.
However, it’s important to understand that it’s not the chocolate bar from the grocery store checkout shelf. The kind of chocolate that is going to hold the greatest health benefit is 70% or greater unsweetened dark chocolate, and here’s why.
Why Eating Chocolate May Boost Your Mental Health
#1 Chocolate May Boost Your Mood: Studies have long shown the mood-boosting benefits of dark chocolate. It’s the flavanol content in dark chocolate that is thought to be responsible for its ability to help support an overall better mood. (1)
#2 Memory Support: The flavanols present in chocolate may help support cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain while also supporting brain neuron function. (2) Dark chocolate has been found to hold some impressive benefits when it comes to supporting memory and overall cognitive function. Try enjoying a piece of dark chocolate at work to see how it can support better cognitive function to help you power through your day.
#3 Improve Anxiety & Depression Symptoms: Chocolate has also been found to help support those suffering from anxiety and depression. The flavanols are again responsible for this benefit along with the methylxanthines present in chocolate. (3)
How to Get The Most Out of Chocolate
So, how exactly can you gain these brain and mood supporting benefits from chocolate? Here are some important tips when it comes to choosing the type of chocolate you consume and how often you enjoy it.
- Choose a 70% or darker unsweetened dark chocolate
- You can also enjoy raw unsweetened cacao powder
- Consume small to moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly
- Add a tablespoon of raw unsweetened cacao powder or cacao nibs to a smoothie
- Enjoy a one-ounce piece of unsweetened dark chocolate with a piece of fruit
Chocolate contains countless health benefits, and brain and mood support are just one of the many benefits of adding this food to your diet. The bottom line is that chocolate can be a health food so long as you stick to unsweetened 70% or greater dark chocolate, and while the taste may take a little getting used to, you may soon come to love this guilt-free treat. Try adding some dark chocolate to a smoothie, sprinkling some cacao nibs over a bowl of oatmeal, or enjoying a small piece with some berries.
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