This week, don’t worry about staying completely out of the trick-or-treat goodie bowl. Especially if it contains dark chocolate.
In fact, I encourage you to indulge in this sweet treat often. (Not just on special occasions, like Halloween!)
That’s because science shows eating dark chocolate can SLOW the aging process and BOOST your health in five key ways…
Five health benefits of dark chocolate
1.) You can eat more…but stay leaner. Dark chocolate has loads of potent antioxidants and phytonutrients, like catechins, which may help optimize your metabolism. In fact, in one recent study of about 1,000 men and women, those who ate chocolate more frequently tended to take in more calories and more fats during the week. Yet, they also had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed less chocolate!
2.) You may avoid heart problems. Overall, men and women who regularly eat dark chocolate tend to have fewer cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease and stroke. And that benefit may relate to certain other compounds in dark chocolate, such as polyphenols, which help improve circulation and prevent blood clots. Regular consumption of chocolate may also help prevent atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots.
3.) You may maintain better blood sugar control. Regularly eating dark chocolate may even help people with Type II diabetes achieve better blood sugar control. In fact, in a recent randomized, controlled trial, participants with Type II diabetes who ate about one ounce of dark chocolate each day (about one square in a standard bar) for eight weeks saw improvements in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C levels (the long-term measure of blood sugar control), and blood pressure! On the other hand, participants with Type II diabetes who ate white chocolate did not see those important improvements.
4.) You may gain protection against colon cancer. In one experiment, researchers exposed lab animals to cancer-inducing carcinogens. But the animals fed cacao for eight weeks had fewer occurrences of colon cancer. The researchers think these impressive anti-cancer effects relate to dark chocolate’s high polyphenol content.
5.) You may boost your brain function. Chocolate is also good for the brain, according to many recent studies. In fact, in one study, older men and women with mild cognitive impairment who drank a dairy-based cocoa drink showed significant improvement in memory after just eight weeks! Researchers believe the flavanols in chocolate protect nerve cells, improve transmission of brain signals, and increase blood circulation and flow to brain tissue (as they do for the rest of the body).
But that’s not all. Even more research into chocolate is being conducted, and I’m eagerly awaiting the results of one study in particular…
More promising research on the horizon
In 2015, a clinical trial called COSMOS (the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study) began assessing the impact of taking a cocoa supplement on heart disease and stroke risk.
Led by investigators with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the trial involves nearly 22,000 participants and should give us some definitive answers about how chocolate consumption supports cardiovascular health.
The pill-taking phase of the trial just wrapped up. So, when the results come out, hopefully within a year, I’ll make sure to share them with you.
Interestingly, the Mars candy bar company helped support the COSMOS trial. And the company has a long history of sponsoring good research on cocoa flavanols. In fact, over the past 20 years, it sponsored more 150 research studies on the health properties of cacao that were published in peer-reviewed literature. (Good thing we don’t solely have to count on the National Institutes of Health [NIH] diet and nutrition “experts”!)
Twenty-five years ago, I met Jacqueline Mars. She’s a descendant of Frank Mars, who started the company in 1911 by making chocolate candies in his kitchen in Tacoma, Washington. Even back then, Jacqueline was an advocate of natural health.
Now, before I go, one quick reminder about eating chocolate…
You should always choose dark chocolate (with up to 90 percent cacao) instead of “milk chocolate” (or the candy called “white chocolate”) with added sugar. Thankfully, you can find a range of healthy, dark chocolates on grocery store shelves nowadays. Some even follow the original Aztec recipe with hot peppers (which offer additional health benefits).
To learn more about the amazing health benefits—and history—of dark chocolate, make sure to check out the current October 2021 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“Two fall favorites hold scary-good health benefits”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one!
“COSMOS-Mind Research Group. Design and baseline characteristics of the cocoa supplement and multivitamin outcomes study for the Mind: COSMOS-Mind.” Contemp Clin Trials 2019 Aug;83:57-63. doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2019.06.019
“Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012; 172 (6): 519. doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2100
“Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults.” European Heart Journal, first published online: 30 March 2010
“Habitual chocolate intake and vascular disease: a prospective study of clinical outcomes in older women.” Arch Intern Med 2010 Nov 8;170(20):1857-8
“Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis,” BMJ 2011;343:d4488
“Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Stroke in Women,” J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;58(17):1828-1829.
“High-cocoa polyphenol-rich chocolate improves blood pressure in patients with diabetes and hypertension.” ARYA Atheroscler. 2015;11(1):21-29.