Before you all rush to the chocolate stash, let me start out by saying that obviously too much of anything is bad for you, as we all know, but scientific research shows that a small amount of certain types of chocolate can have benefits for your health, too.
Munching in moderation
As well as releasing 'happy neurotransmitters' (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin), dark chocolate with a cocoa concentration of around 70% or more contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same mood-altering chemical that our brain releases when we are in the throes of love and encourages the release of those aforementioned neurotransmitters. Which is why that little bit of chocolate can make you feel less stressed and so much better about things!
As well as containing numerous minerals like potassium, zinc and iron, dark chocolate with a high cacao content also contains procyanidin flavonoids, which are the same antioxidants that are found in red wine, green tea and fruit such as apples. These flavonoids have been proven to help fight disease, help cut down the risk of strokes (researchers in Finland found that it lowered the risk of a stroke in men by 17%), reduce memory loss in older people and help protect the skin against sun damage, by increasing the skin density and thickness.
Research at the Heinrich Heine University in Germany showed the latter by comparing case studies of people who ate chocolate to those who didn't upon exposing them regularly to ultra-violet light. After 12 weeks, tests showed that those who consumed the chocolate had skin that was 42% less scaly and 16% denser. Wilhelm Stahl, who oversaw the study said, “We believe the compounds in chocolate act as UV filters.” Good news for all chocolate-loving sun-worshippers, eh?
The heart of the matter
Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have shown that the polyphenols found in cocoa may slightly lower blood pressure as well as maintain a healthier cardiovascular system, by decreasing oxidised LDL cholesterol and increasing nitric oxide, protecting blood vessels and arteries from clotting.
British Dietetic Association spokesperson Alison Hornby said, "A range of health benefits from the consumption of cocoa products have been investigated, particularly in relation to cardiovascular disease, with early results showing promise." Interesting stuff, no?
And that's not all. Award-winning neuroscientist and neurophysiologist Will Clower Phd reckons that chocolate can actually aid in losing weight. According to his research, sucking a small square of chocolate 20 minutes before eating a meal can trigger satiating hormones in your brain, telling you that you are actually full and, as such, you won't want to consume as much during your meal. And, by eating another piece five minutes afterwards, too, you'll be less likely to snack later on. Clever stuff. And, by all accounts, it really does work. Who would've thought that chocolate could actually help you shrink your appetite?
Don't bite off more than you can chew!
Of course, it has to be reiterated that these points only apply if you eat the chocolate in moderation – eating a vat-load is obviously not going to do you any good, on any level! But a small amount of high-cocoa dark chocolate really can have its benefits, too...
It is worth noting that Solution Focused hypnotherapy can not only help you keep control of your weight, but can also teach you alternative ways to produce those happy neurotransmitters that chocolate releases in the brain. Plus, hypnotherapy doesn't add to your waistline or make you feel guilty about partaking, either, like chocolate can! It goes without saying we can also assist you with chocolate addiction. Whether you want to lose weight, gain it or stop fluctuating, we can really help.
So why not contact us today today and arrange a free initial consultation? You'll be glad you did!