If you’re a chocolate lover, the news just keeps getting better and better. What was once a guilty pleasure has now officially become a health food.
As long as you’re choosing the right kind, of course. And I’ll explain how to do that in just a moment. So until then, put that Snickers back on the shelf.
Now this isn’t the first time you’ve heard me sing the praises of this tasty treat. I’ve recommended chocolate before for everything from brain boosting to better blood pressure.
Past research has found the flavonoids in cacao—which are potent antioxidants—have all kinds of health benefits. But now scientists have doubled down on their permission to indulge with two positive chocolate studies.
Because it turns out treating yourself to a little can have a LOT of benefits. Chocolate could help boost your brain power, slash your stress levels, reverse damaging inflammation, improve your memory and mood, and power up your immune system.
And all it takes is 1.7 ounces. Or what you’d find in a typical chocolate bar, according to the two new studies.
Dark chocolate benefits the brain & boosts immunities
In the first study, researchers dug into how chocolate affects us on a cellular level. The cocoa nutrients reduced inflammation and increased infection fighting cells.
Plus they stimulated the genes involved in neural signaling and sensory perception. And that may prime the brain for making quicker connections and learning.
In the second study, the researchers looked at what was happening inside the brain after eating just under two ounces of dark chocolate. After 30 minutes and 120 minutes, the scientists found beneficial gamma activity had jumped.
And experts say that jump is a sign of enhanced neuroplasticity. Which means the brain is better equipped to repair itself and make new connections. And that can result in improved learning, memory, recall, mindfulness and mood.
2 easy rules to reap the most dark chocolate benefits
Together the two new studies confirm dark chocolate benefits are real. But the trick is to make the right chocolate choice. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your Snickers bar just doesn’t make the cut.
The candy industry would love you stop at the chocolate positive headlines and start scarfing down as many milk chocolate treats as your belly can hold. But that move will backfire on you. Because to get the most out of your chocolate you need to follow two rules.
1. The darker the better:
You can’t just pick any old chocolate bar off the shelf and expect to get these benefits. The highly processed, cheap, junk you find in most supermarket check outs and movie theater concession stands just won’t cut it.
You need to choose a quality dark chocolate. And the darker the better. For the biggest impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and more pick an organic bar that’s at least 70 percent cacao.
2. Make it moderate:
In the real world, eating too much chocolate, even the dark variety can do more harm than good. So the key to reaping the rewards is moderation.
Don’t overindulge. A dark chocolate bar still contains around 6.8 grams of sugar. So make sure you’re figuring that extra sugar into your daily diet plan.
And if you’re not a dark chocolate fan, but still want to take advantage of dark chocolate benefits, my advice is to give the dark side another try. Think of it as an acquired taste, like coffee.
Most folks find coffee a bitter brew the first couple of times they drink it. But over time, many learn to love the complex flavors in a good cup of java. The same is true for dark chocolate.