Here’s Why a Neuroscientist Recommends Dark Chocolate

benefits of dark chocolate

Whoever invented chocolate could be considered an idol. As one study said, “Chocolate is a widely appreciated foodstuff with historical appreciation as a food from the gods.”

For all those who demonise it, dark chocolate is actually a nutrient-dense food. Neuroscientist and neurodegenerative disease researcher, Kristen Willeumier PhD, says it’s one of the most powerful functional foods we can add to our diet.

You’ve probably heard by now that dark chocolate is full of antioxidants — the thing that makes tea so good for you — but did you know it also supports your brain and heart?

It’s due to the aforementioned antioxidants — which are actually called polyphenols. These provide anti-inflammatory benefits to both the brain, and the body. Talking to mindbodygreen, she explains, “It can cross the blood-brain barrier and help protect the neurons in the brain.”

It’s not just the antioxidants that help though. The flavonoids in dark chocolate induce the expression of BDNF — brain-derived neurotrophic factor. In basic terms? Dark chocolate can trigger chemical reactions in the brain that help to grow new brain cells.

As for where these new brain cells are specifically grown? It’s in the hippocampus — the area of our brain that’s responsible for both learning and memory. A study even found that these flavanoids can lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, and decrease the risk of stroke in humans.

Another thing the study found? That it induces “positive effects on mood” — and is often consumed under emotional stress.

As for how chocolate helps with your heart? A separate study found that the compounds in chocolate have “many beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system”. The specifics? When 30g of chocolate was consumed six or fewer times a week, there was a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

If you’re wondering what percentage the dark chocolate needs to be, we can help you there. Dark chocolates around 50-60% are semisweet in taste — best for the newbies who prefer milk chocolate.

Those who prefer a bittersweet taste should aim for dark chocolate around 75-90%. Koko Black offers a range of different chocolates, including a Dark Chocolate Egg made even healthier with the addition of puffed quinoa and goji berries.

So really, as a third study stated: “Chocolates are one of the most beneficial and nutritious foods that nature can provide.” You can’t argue with science.

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