Do you make a chocolate version of your morning protein shake? If so, you’re reaping some additional health benefits you might not be aware of. December 13–National Cocoa Day–is a great time to learn why.
One reason so many of us adore chocolate is that–along with its incomparable flavor–it also has an uplifting effect. Chocolate contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that reduces anxiety by producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts as an anti–depressant. Othersubstances, like theobromine, phenylethylamine, and a low level of caffeine add to chocolate’s unique “feel good” factor.
Chocolate is loaded with a type of flavonoids called flavonols–natural compounds with potent antioxidant properties. The darker the chocolate, the higher the flavonol content. Flavonols work to neutralize free radicals in your body, which may minimize your risk of chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more.
Flavonols help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow, preventing fat–like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, while making blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. This lowers your odds of both heart attacks and stroke. Flavonoids even help relieve, chronic inflammation in your body–a key biomarker for cardiovascular disease.1
But skip the processed candy bars, as the added sugar and fat compromise the benefits cocoa offers. For a healthy alternative, indulge your love of this amazing flavor with a chocolate version of your morning shake. Now that’s a delicious prospect.
1 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003 Jun;77(6):1466-73