Antidote Blog: mood booster

9 PROVEN BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE

By Red Thalhammer

BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE

This article is from Be Brain Fit.

https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-dark-chocolate/

Last updated May 8, 2023.
Edited and medically reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC. Written by Deane Alban.

To keep the Article intact, Antidote has only added 3 comments in brackets starting with *1 where we wanted to add Antidote and maker insights.

Dark chocolate boosts mood, protects the brain, improves memory and focus & more. Learn the benefits of cacao nibs and how to choose good dark chocolate.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
— Charles M. Schulz

The world loves chocolate.

Every year, we eat over 100 billion dollars worth of it!

We love chocolate not just because of the way it tastes.

We love it because of the way it makes us feel.

Chocolate is an enormously complex food containing over 1,500 biochemicals

Several of these are known to positively impact mood and brain health and function, which is why you’ll find dark chocolate on any list of top brain foods.

It’s rare that something so delicious is also healthy, but dark chocolate is an exception to the rule.

Here are 9 proven brain benefits of eating dark chocolate.

 

1. EATING DARK CHOCOLATE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY

Dark chocolate boosts the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins

Endorphins bind with opiate receptors in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria, like the kind joggers get from “runner’s high.”

They also reduce pain and diminish the negative effects of stress

Chocolate is a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood.

Chocolate is the main food source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound called the “bliss molecule.”

Related on Be Brain Fit —

Anandamide: Bliss Molecule for Happiness & Mental Balance

This neurotransmitter is very similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. 

Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a compound called the “love drug” because it creates a brain buzz similar to being in love. 

Theobromine, a caffeine-related compound that’s found in chocolate, is thought to make chocolate a mild aphrodisiac. 

And finally, chocolate increases levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter critical for positive mood. 

 

2. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN

Compounds in dark chocolate boost memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain

The flavonoids in chocolate have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain in young and old alike.

In one study, a single dose of cocoa rich in flavanols (the main flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate) caused a measurable increase in cerebral blood flow in healthy, young adults. 

[Discover the many ways that our modern lifestyle diminishes blood circulation to the brain.]

Another study found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate increased blood flow to the brain for 2-3 hours.

 

3. ANTIOXIDANTS IN CHOCOLATE NEUTRALIZE FREE RADICAL DAMAGE

The brain uses a lot of oxygen, about 20% of the body’s total intake.

This makes the  brain susceptible to free radical damage.

Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that attack cells in much the same way that oxygen attacks metal, causing it to rust.

If you’ve ever seen a sliced apple or avocado turn brown, you’ve seen free radical damage at work.

Wrinkles, age spots, and sun damage on your skin are visible signs of free radical damage.

The same process is going on inside your brain.

Antioxidants protect brain cells by neutralizing free radical damage and preventing premature brain cell aging.

When tested against coffee and tea, cocoa powder drink exhibited more antioxidant activity than green tea, but less than coffee. 

 

4. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES LEARNING, MEMORY, AND FOCUS

Cocoa’s flavonoids enter the brain and accumulate in regions involved in learning and memory, especially the hippocampus. 

Seniors who consume foods high in flavonoids, including chocolate, score better on standardized cognitive tests

Chocolate also contains some caffeine, a known brain booster that, in low doses, improves both mental and physical performance

" Chocolate is an enormously complex food containing over 1,500 biochemicals. 

Caffeine in a normal-size serving of chocolate is relatively low compared to tea and, especially, coffee.

So eating chocolate in moderation probably won’t contain enough caffeine to make you feel wired or keep you awake at night.

 

5. MAGNESIUM FOUND IN DARK CHOCOLATE RELIEVES STRESS

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is so good for anxiety and stress that it’s been called “nature’s Valium.”

It can help reduce stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol

Getting more magnesium in your diet can improve memory, focus, mood, sleep, and resilience to stress. 

Related on Be Brain Fit —

How Magnesium Relieves Anxiety & Stress (detailed guide)

Magnesium is largely missing from the modern diet, but chocolate contains a substantial amount of it. 

Cocoa solids contain more magnesium per gram than almost any other food. 

 It’s suspected that people who crave chocolate might be deficient in magnesium.

 

6. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS CONTROL FOOD CRAVINGS

Chocolate is the most widely craved food

But indulging in cheap, mass-produced milk chocolate doesn’t reduce cravings.

In fact, it fuels them (because of the sugar that’s in milk chocolate).

On the other hand, high-quality dark chocolate is extremely satisfying, so you should find that you’re satisfied eating less of it.

Eating a little dark chocolate has been shown to reduce cravings for junk food of all kinds — sweet, salty, and fatty. 

Consequently, it can help you make healthy food choices and lose weight.

Is all this satisfaction due to chocolate’s unique profile of phytochemicals?

Or is there a psychological aspect to our love affair with chocolate?

Interestingly, it seems that the sensory experience of eating dark chocolate is an important part of its ability to satisfy cravings.

When scientists put the beneficial ingredients of chocolate in a pill, it did not have the same appetite-suppressing effect. 

 

7. DARK CHOCOLATE PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN FOR A LIFETIME

There have been many exciting findings regarding chocolate’s use in treating brain-related medical conditions like strokes and dementia.

The consumption of flavonoid-rich foods like cocoa may potentially limit, prevent, or reverse age-related brain deterioration

The powerful antioxidants found in dark chocolate reduce the risk of dementia.

In one study, the more chocolate seniors ate, the less likely they were to develop dementia

Chocolate’s flavanols improved cognition in seniors diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). 

Dark chocolate has been found to decrease insulin resistance.

This is significant because many experts believe Alzheimer’s is a disease of insulin resistance, a form of diabetes of the brain. 

When brain cells become insulin-resistant, they don’t get the glucose they need, and subsequently die.

 

8. DARK CHOCOLATE SUPPORTS GOOD GUT BACTERIA

One of the most unusual health benefits of dark chocolate is that it increases beneficial bacteria in your intestines.

And oddly, this is good news for your brain!

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are two of the most prevalent strains of “good” bacteria in your gut and are found in most probiotic supplements.

Related on Be Brain Fit —

Psychobiotics: Use the Gut-Brain Connection for Mental Health

They act as antioxidants, protecting the brain from free radical damage

Chocolate also acts as a prebiotic, keeping good bacteria levels high and “bad” bacteria in check.

An overabundance of bad bacteria can lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

This important brain chemical is essential for keeping existing brain cells healthy and stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

 

9. EATING DARK CHOCOLATE CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER

You’ve already seen that eating dark chocolate can improve your ability to learn, focus, and remember.

One study reports that the more chocolate a country consumes, the more Nobel Prize winners it has!

While this may sound like a joke, the study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a prestigious organization not known for pranks.

In all seriousness though, eating quality chocolate has been shown to be neuroprotective and to enhance brain plasticity, a trait that’s linked to increased intelligence. 

 

HOW TO GET MAXIMUM BRAIN BENEFITS FROM CHOCOLATE

To get the maximum brain benefits from chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you.

Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains more of the things that are good for you, like flavonoids and antioxidants, and less of the things that aren’t, like sugar. *1 (Antidote Milk chocolate bars are very low in sugar and do not compare with other milk chocolate bars)

It’s thought that the dairy in milk chocolate could interfere with flavonoid absorption, but, so far, studies have been inconclusive

WHAT THE NUMBERS ON DARK CHOCOLATE LABELS MEAN

When you see a number like 70% on a bar of dark chocolate, this indicates the total percentage of everything derived from the cocoa bean — chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.

In general, 70% is a good minimum to start for any significant health benefits.

Like many of the finer things in life, eating very dark chocolate can be an acquired taste. 

Note: The terms cacao and cocoa are often used interchangeably on labels. Technically, cacao is the name of the bean from which chocolate is made. Cocoa refers to the processed final product. 

SHOULD YOU BUY ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE?

I’ve seen several websites mention that cacao is heavily sprayed with pesticides, making it one of the most chemical-laden food crops.

But I haven’t found any reliable data to back this up or to examine how much of a health concern this is for the consumer.

However, organic is usually a good indicator of overall quality.

*2 (Knowing how Antidote farmers care for their cacao we can’t confirm that. However Antidote uses organic when possible. Antidote chooses not to buy organic cacao in order to get the best possible quality for flavor and purity) 

Related on Be Brain Fit —

50 Yummy & Healthy Brain Food Recipes

Truly healthy dark chocolate will contain only a handful of ingredients.

Besides cocoa, it will contain a sweetener and not much else.

It won’t contain high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, emulsifiers, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial color or flavoring, or any other artificial ingredients.

Additionally, you may notice the words “fair trade” on chocolate labels.

Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price and that no slave or child labor was used. 

*3 (Antidote as well as many other bean-to-bar makers choose Direct Trade over Fair Trade as purchasing cacao directly from the famers creates a much bigger impact and higher profits for farmers)

 

BRAIN BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE: TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Dark chocolate truly deserves the term “brain food.”

It can improve overall brain health, focus, and concentration, and even make you happier.

It protects the brain from aging and oxidation, and helps to keep it fit and fully functioning.

To get the most mental health benefits, choose the darkest chocolate that you enjoy.

Read more


Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?

By Red Thalhammer

Is Dark Chocolate Good

Not all dark chocolate is made equal. The Essence of Antidote chocolate is a remedy or chocolate pill for every obstacle. Maybe you’re having a stress-filled week or just need to take a minute to relax. Or perhaps you just need something to lift your spirits! We’ve got the Antidote! After all, it is a very versatile remedy! Honest and sincere, it is a powerhouse for many situations!

Heart Blues? 

A few Squares lift your spirits! With the high cacao content and minimal processing we maximize the potency of antioxidants to create an exquisite mood booster.

Stressed? 

Pop a choco pill to find balance. When you feel stress building up, dark chocolate can be a delightful equalizer! Cacao beans contain polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body. Sink your teeth into a bit or two.

Getting Fit? 

Two pieces conquer your appetite. Did you know the right kind of dark chocolate can actually HELP you get fit? The bitter elements of dark chocolate reduces hunger cravings and satiates your appetite while gratifying deeply. This way, dark chocolate is not the problem to your fitness goals... it’s the solution! 

Drained? 

A square to awaken your senses. Whether or not we have a long work day, sometimes our energy levels are suffering – dark chocolate to the rescue! Higher intake of quality dark chocolate enables improvements in our memories, visualization, and cognitive functions! Plus the theobromine in dark chocolate will pull you through your afternoon slump!

Want a Power Shot? 

Flip a pill into it! Are you sneaking chocolate into your espresso?! We are!  Not only does coffee and the rich notes of dark chocolate pair well together, but also the nourishing properties of the chocolate will give you a morning boost of antioxidants!  Cacao is filled with antioxidants and has antidepressant effects as does coffee. A Power pair!  Antidote Naked would be our choice.

Hungry? 

One bar for the lunch hour you don’t have. Dark Chocolate is perfect to nourish and curb hunger when on the go. It's one of the most nutrient dense convenience foods!! If you pick the right chocolate of course! On top of that, cacao can decrease food cravings in the brain for up to 4 hours. A delicious treat + power-packed nutrients sounds like our kind-of lunch! 

Lonely? 

Have Antidote at your side. We all feel it these days. That's why we have: Chocolate that loves you back. And indeed the PEA in cacao, or phenethylamine, is probably the strongest “love chemical” in chocolate. It triggers a massive endorphin release in the brain. These happy little endorphins will give you some love you deserve!

Seeking Pleasure? 

It’s an Aphrodisiac! For most, chocolate is a symbol for love but there's also some science to back up that chocolate is a libido enhancer! Two chemicals are responsible: One, tryptophan, a building block of serotonin and a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. The other, phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, which is released in the brain when people fall in love. To top it off, it is ultra rich, silky, and decadent - who wouldn't have feelings of love when one little square holds all of that?!

Need Some Chi 

Take some choc! Smelling the rich aromas and taking the first flavor packed bite in a square of dark chocolate is enough to get your senses up and dancing! In case you never heard of CHI or QI, it's the energy of life itself, a balance of Yin and Yang, positive and negative, electromagnetic energy which flows through everything in creation ✌🏻 An Antidote to keep things flowing and going! 

Need an Antidote? 

We got you! Find sanity in the chaos with 15 exquisite options. Antidote will nourish you deeply on an emotional level while boosting your mood. Try it!! And if it doesn't give you "everything" you need - at least you have some delicious chocolate - Sometimes that's all the care we need!

why chocolate good you stress

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