The benefits of chocolate: happiness and brain power

The pure coco in chocolate prevents the formation of blood clots and reduces inflammation.
The pure coco in chocolate prevents the formation of blood clots and reduces inflammation. / SUR
  • Moderate consumption of chocolate reduces the risks of suffering some cardiovascular illnesses, lowers blood pressure and gives the brain a feeling of happiness

Everyone knows that chocolate is addictive, its combination of sweet and bitter and the distinct taste it leaves in your mouth is unparalleled. One reason why people like it so much is because chocolate contains endorphins which, as explained by nutritionist Álex Vidal, supply the brain with a feeling of relaxation, pleasure and comfort.

“This explains why, often and without even realising it, when we have a bad day we feel like eating chocolate, almost to a point of desperation,” he adds.

On top of it being a food which can make us happy, chocolate also has nutritional properties which are unknown to some. The high levels of the purest form of cocoa act as an antioxidant thanks to the presence of flavonol, a molecule which prevents the formation of blood clots. The cocoa also reduces inflammation and insulin resistance.

Another benefit of chocolate is that it improves intellectual performance, including memory. As expert Marisol Guisasola, in her blog 'Adelgazar sabiendo', and a recent study published in Appetite magazine indicate, the antioxidants in chocolate protect our cells from oxidation and ageing, and they also improve the flow of blood to the brain.

So are you someone who wants to improve your brain's performance, including your memory? Eat chocolate at least once a week. A new study of almost 1,000 people between 23 and 98 years of age has confirmed that people who do eat chocolate this frequently get better results on brain training tests than those who do not have this weekly quantity or do not eat chocolate at all. “Twenty per cent of cocoa beans are flavonoids, these are added to other bioactive compounds like caffeine and theobromine, which already improve alertness and cognitive performance,” explains the investigation.

So why is it banned in some diets?

It is amongthe most loved confectionery but is it as harmful as some diets would indicate? Experts ensure us that it is not. According to recent studies, consuming 50 grammes of dark chocolate a week or having seven grammes a day can mean that the risk of suffering a stroke is reduced by 14 per cent; it can also help to reduce blood pressure. The flavonoids also act to protect your body from possible cardiovascular illnesses.

Nevertheless, we must not forget its high-calorie content: 100 grammes of dark chocolate contains around 500 Kcal. Often we forget the calories using the excuse that some types of chocolate have low-sugar content or a high percentage of cocoa, and this is a mistake.

Nearly half of the calories get converted into fats or lipids; consuming some might be good but it is fat either way. For the people who cannot live without chocolate, the nutritionist recommends a daily intake of dark chocolate: eight grammes equates to 40 Kcal.

It is also worth noting that if you consume chocolate during the first half of the day, with the rest of the day ahead of you, you are more likely to burn the calories consumed without having to worry about the effect that the chocolate could have on your figure.