Is Consuming Dark Chocolate Good For You?
Not all chocolate is good for you, but when consumed in small amounts, dark chocolate and cacao powder – like that found in our Pecan Choco spread – have plenty of health benefits that may surprise you.
You may be thinking: OF COURSE dark chocolate improves my mood! But dark chocolate’s positive effects on mood go much deeper than just taste. In high pressure situations, one study found those who consumed cacao flavanol drinks prior to the trial had better overall cognitive performance and less mental fatigue than the study’s control group.
Consuming dark chocolate two hours prior to a meal can reduce your appetite. Crazy, right? One study tested this by giving one group of participants milk chocolate before being served an all-you-can-eat lunch and giving the other group dark chocolate. The group given dark chocolate reported 17% lower calorie intake at the lunch than those who consumed milk chocolate before their meal.
Promote Heart Health
Regular dark chocolate consumption promotes cardiovascular health in a few different ways. The polyphenols found in cacao increase HDL cholesterol (the good) and leads to a decrease in LDL cholesterol (the bad).
Epicatechin, a flavanol found in cacao, is also responsible for the rise of nitric oxide in your body, which is very important for vascular health. Nitric oxide regulates dilation tone, signals cell growth and your body’s inflammatory response, in addition to protecting blood vessels from clotting.
Aside from making you feel and look good, consuming dark chocolate/cacao powder helps modulate a healthy blood flow, which in turn affects your skin. In one study, two groups of women consumed two different types of cacao powder for 12-weeks: a high flavanol powder and a low flavanol powder. Those who consumed the high flavanol cacao powder showed an average of 25% reduction in sunburn after exposure to a solar simulator, in addition to increased skin density, thickness and hydration.
Although the smaller polyphenols found in cacao powder can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, larger ones must be broken down in the gut before they can enter the bloodstream. As your gut microbiome (all the bacteria in your intestines that work to break your food down) breaks down these polyphenols, it is affected by them. One study discovered this beneficial effect of consuming high flavanol cacao. After a period of four weeks of consuming the high flavanol cacao powder, participants experienced an increase in good bacteria in the gut, particularly bifidobacteria and lactobacilli populations.
Lucky for you, our Pecan Choco spread combines healthy pecans with delicious organic cacao powder – one heath-packed duo.