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4 ways our love for chocolate is good for us

Good news: the benefits of chocolate are increasingly being backed up by science. (Moganraj Villavan @ FMT Lifestyle)

With roasted hazelnuts or caramelised pecans, or even praline concoctions, chocolate isn’t just a tasty treat – in recent years, the list of its various benefits has grown as experts have unearthed more of its nutritional aspects.

In conjunction with World Cacao and Chocolate Day today, here are some of the recent discoveries that make this indulgence that much sweeter.

Jet lag

It’s not easy to cope with the fatigue that comes with a long-haul flight and changing several timezones. While some passengers like to indulge in some wine, it’s actually not advisable to drink alcohol on these journeys as it disrupts sleep and can make you more dehydrated.

If you need a little indulgence, munching on some chocolate could help you face changing time zones with greater ease. That’s one of the happy conclusions reached by the team of scientists Qantas worked with in the runup to the launch of its ultra-long-haul flight between Sydney and New York.

Heart health

Dark chocolate gets particular attention, as it contains a higher cocoa content than milk chocolate. And it’s in cocoa that flavanols are found: antioxidants in the flavonoids group that are believed to fight inflammation and may even help prevent blood clots, according to the American Heart Association.

These aren’t just amazing to look at – experts say they’re also good for mental and physical well-being. (Moganraj Villavan @ FMT Lifestyle)

Mental well-being

If you feel pleasure biting into a little piece of dark chocolate, it’s not your imagination. And again, it’s the presence of cocoa that has beneficial effects, this time on mental well-being.

In 2020, the American Psychiatric Association endorsed the positive impact of chocolate on mental health, highlighting research by University College London on over 13,000 American adults.

Polyphenols contained in dark chocolate can act as a mood booster. Unlike milk chocolate, which contains less cocoa and, therefore, fewer polyphenols, consuming dark chocolate can have a positive impact on stress.

Last year, the University of Seoul also found that a daily dose of chocolate containing 85% cocoa was associated with a better mood, underlining the link between the brain and intestinal flora.

UV rays

Don’t worry, no one is recommending slathering on melted dark chocolate to prevent sunburn. In 2021, scientists at the Madrid Institute of Science, Technology and Nutrition reviewed various studies on cocoa flavonols and human health from the past two decades.

They observed positive effects from flavonol consumption in the form of photoprotection, thanks to improved skin density and hydration. So enjoy that bar of chocolate!