You are not alone if you would describe your relationship with chocolate as “complicated.” In the United States, about 45% of women say they crave chocolate, and a whopping 91% of female college students say they crave it on a regular basis. According to research, unlike men, many women either resist the urge to eat this potentially “forbidden” food or feel guilty about it.
There are numerous ways in which this strained relationship with chocolate can be harmful. Experts in nutrition explain how using chocolate to make up can be good for your health as well as your taste buds.
Why Chocolate Shouldn’t Be Your Guilty Pleasure
According to a 2014 study, women who associated eating chocolate cake with celebration were more successful at maintaining their weight, whereas those who associated it with guilt were more likely to run into a number of issues, such as:
- Lower quality of life as a result of lower long-term and short-term weight maintenance success,
- feelings of helplessness and loss of control,
- unhealthy eating behaviors, and
- greater body image dissatisfaction.
A key to reversing the negative effects of these chocolate cravings is to stop making it taboo. Feelings of helplessness and loss of control over one’s weight. Unhealthy eating behaviors. Greater body image dissatisfaction. Lower quality of life. Whether you have a chocolate or broccoli craving, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. According to experts, labeling any food as completely forbidden typically results in increased cravings for that food and guilt when you do eat it.
Instead, you might want to negotiate some terms with chocolate. Without feeling guilty, savor it and enjoy it with intention. Don’t sit in front of the television with a bowl of chocolate treats in your hand. Instead, pay attention to when and why you eat it. For instance, if you have plans for the weekend at a restaurant that serves a world-famous chocolate dessert and enjoy a square of dark chocolate every day, you might want to skip your daily treat so you can indulge on the weekend.
Instead of trying to completely avoid chocolate and then overindulging, having a healthy relationship with it allows you to enjoy it in moderation and without feeling guilty.
The Advantages of Eating Chocolate in Addition to Other Foods
Maintaining a healthy relationship with all foods is essential for your mind and body. However, starting or establishing a healthy relationship with dark chocolate, in particular, may significantly improve your overall health.
Strong antioxidants can be found in dark chocolate. Epicatechin, a flavonol, is one of the most beneficial. Flavonols are intensifies tracked down in plants that battle irritation and safeguard against cell harm brought about by free radicals.
Among the many ways that dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial by research are the following:
- Improves cardiac health: The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from heart disease.
- Rebalances the body’s defenses: Flavonols reduce oxidative stress—an imbalance caused by cells fighting free radicals and a common cause of many diseases—and prevent the immune system from going into overdrive.
- Wards off diabetes: In the hopes of preventing or combating diabetes, epicatechin strengthens, protects, and supports the processes that the body uses insulin more effectively.
- Enhances cognitive function: Dark chocolate contains flavonols that improve memory, visual-spatial awareness, and reaction time as well as other brain functions. Although research is ongoing, it is possible that flavonols increase brain blood flow.
- Boosts performance in sports: Dark chocolate’s epicatechin boosts blood nitric oxide production, which aids circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen required by athletes performing moderately intense exercise. The athlete is able to work out at a higher intensity for longer thanks to this.
- Reduces anxiety: Researchers confirmed that there were lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after eating dark chocolate, and those who consumed it reported feeling less stressed. Since stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, this may have something to do with the effects that dark chocolate has on heart health.
If you haven’t already, you should think about including dark chocolate in your diet because of the health-enhancing compounds and micronutrients it contains (it’s important to note that dark chocolate contains caffeine, which some people may be sensitive to).
The following are some facts about the health benefits of dark chocolate:
- The chocolate has more beneficial flavonols the more cocoa it contains. Chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70% is linked to the majority of the health benefits found in the research.
- In order to reap these health benefits, researchers have not established a precise serving size for dark chocolate. Experts recommend dark chocolate that has been minimally processed and contains at least 70% cacao, and occasionally indulge in an ounce.
- Always read the label to find out how many calories, fat, and sugar it contains—these factors could have an impact on the overall health benefit.
- Chocolate can cause migraines or acid reflux in some people.
Ultimately, whether you choose antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or white chocolate, which has very little nutritional value, indulgence in chocolate should not be fraught with stress or guilt.Maintaining a positive and balanced outlook is essential, as it is in the majority of healthy relationships.
Dark chocolate can definitely be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet because it has many health benefits. Find the method that works best for you among the many healthy ways to incorporate chocolate into your lifestyle.
Consider consulting a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or other qualified health professional for assistance if you need additional assistance or have difficulty controlling your diet.