More than 259 million Americans ate chocolate last year, and it’s easy to understand why. Not only is the flavor easy to enjoy, but the health benefits of chocolate date back to ancient times. In fact, when eaten in moderation chocolate is good for you.
Chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree, which is known for its high-antioxidant qualities. It’s also full of minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. As an added benefit, chocolate is packed with fiber and can give you a noticeable energy boost, since it contains the stimulants caffeine and theobromine.
Occasionally enjoying this sweet treat can provide numerous health benefits, some of which might surprise you! For instance, studies shown that chocolate can lower blood pressure and protect the skin from harmful UV rays. That’s good enough reason to keep some on hand at the office, right?
Here are three key ways this sweet treat can improve your and your coworkers’ lives.
1. Better Cognitive Functioning
Looking for a reason to eat chocolate with some regularity? Researchers recently studied the effects of chocolate on the brain and reached some interesting conclusions. They noted that, “More frequent chocolate consumption was significantly associated with better performance on the Global Composite score, Visual-Spatial Memory and Organization, Working Memory, Scanning and Tracking, Abstract Reasoning and the Mini-Mental State Examination” tests.
That’s right, eating chocolate could actually make you feel smarter! The researchers’ findings indicate that eating it once a week has the potential to increase cognitive functions. More dessert, anyone?
2. Increased Cardiovascular Health
One of the most studied areas of chocolate’s role in our health has to do with the cardiovascular system. According to a report published in the British Medical Journal—which sought to examine the connection between chocolate consumption and the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders—individuals who ate the most chocolate experienced a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease.
It’s amazing to think that eating chocolate can lower a person’s risk of heart disease by one third. However, Cleveland Clinic reports that there is “currently no established serving size of chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer.” So, while you might be thinking about treating yourself to an entire tub of chocolate ice cream, know that consuming it in moderation is still the best option.
3. Better Oral Health
Those aren’t the only health benefits of chocolate that are worth mentioning! Mark Burhenne, DDS reports that, “The compound CBH, a white crystalline powder whose chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, helps harden tooth enamel.” This compound can be found in the cocoa bean and in little-processed chocolate, such as cocoa nibs or dark varieties.
Additionally, the high levels of antioxidants in chocolate are also known to help fight periodontal disease and lower the risk of tooth decay. Some studies have even indicated that the tannins and flavanols—two natural compounds found in the cocoa bean—help fight against cavities. American Dental Association dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty notes that, “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy. Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”
There are many health benefits of chocolate, so don’t beat yourself up if you enjoy some with your colleagues from time to time. Just remember to make smart, healthy choices about the types of chocolate you’re consuming, as well as how much you decide to eat.
Curious to learn other surprising dental facts? Discover all that the United Concordia Dental website has to offer.