As we get deeper into the first month of the new year, the natural question we ask others and ourselves is “what is your New Year’s resolution? Of the top ten New Year’s resolutions of Americans, according to statisticbrain.com, number four and five are “Enjoy Life to the Fullest” and “Stay Fit and Healthy” respectively. Americans seem intent on improving mental wellbeing, including thinking positively, laughing more, and enjoying life, and at the same time getting physically healthier, including reducing the signs of aging and decreasing the risk for cancer.
If only there was one thing, a magic ingredient, that can help achieve both mental and physical wellness goals. Could such an elixir actually exist?
The short answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Dark chocolate has recently been discovered to have a number of health benefits—both physical and mental. The basic ingredients of dark chocolate include cacao beans containing resveratrol, an antioxidant also found in red wine. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may also be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.
Because resveratrol can also increase serotonin levels in the brain, dark chocolate may increase serotonin production in the gut, and thus help enhance the body’s immune system.
As little as one ounce per day may also help reduce blood pressure and increase arterial blood flow, reduce the chance of blood clots and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Resveratrol’s mental health benefits include the ability to boost brain levels of endorphins (which are natural opiates), as well as serotonin (which are mood-altering chemicals found in many pharmaceutical antidepressants). Other mental health boosting powers of dark chocolate include:
- Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, thus eating dark chocolate can make you feel happier.
- Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, and can help improve cognitive function, as well as may help reduce the risk of stroke.
- Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a known mild stimulant. The good news for those who are sensitive to caffeine, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.
For those challenged by reconciling fitness goals with their craving for the delicious mood-boosting benefits of dark chocolate—keep moderation in mind, relax, and enjoy the many health benefits of dark chocolate.
Stutz Candies offers a wide variety of chocolate covered candies, nuts, and fruits. Customers have the option to choose between a mix of milk and dark chocolate covered candies, all milk chocolate, or if you prefer, all dark chocolate.
Phenylethylamine aside, what can be happier than that?!