Now you need not be guilty of indulging in dark chocolates, as compounds found in cocoa may be good for your heart, a study has found and the findings showed that consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products was associated with improvements in specific circulating biomarkers of cardiometabolic health.
‘We found that cocoa flavanol intake may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which are all major subclinical risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases,’ said Simin Liu, Professor at Brown University in Rhode Islands, US.
There were small-to-modest but statistically significant improvements among those who ate flavanol-rich cocoa products versus those who did not and the greatest effects were seen among trial volunteers who ate between 200 and 600 mg of flavanols a day (based on their cocoa consumption).
They had significant declines in blood glucose and insulin, as well as another indicator of insulin resistance called HOMA-IR. Further, they also saw an increase in HDL, or ‘good,’ cholesterol.
Here are the 5 Most Important Health Benefits of Dark Chocolates:
1. Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelial, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.
2. Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease and in a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.
3. Protect Your Skin Against The Sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin and the flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration.
4. Improve Brain Function
The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain and one study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.
5. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious and it contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. Participants who consumed higher doses saw some of the insulin resistance benefits and a drop in triglycerides, but not a significant increase in HDL.
For the study, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of cocoa consumption and included 1,139 volunteers in these trials. The results appear in the Journal of Nutrition.