What you may not realise is that it’s the hundreds of complex chemicals found in chocolate that keep us coming back for more.
Not only do they give chocolate its delicious taste and smooth texture, but they also have powerful effects on the human brain to make us feel happy and alert. It’s no wonder that the plant genus from which this tasty substance comes from is called theobroma, derived from the Greek for ‘food of the gods’.
Is chocolate good for you?
Although it is typically considered an unhealthy treat, some chocolate does actually have some health benefits. Cocoa beans are rich in natural antioxidants called flavonols. One such flavonol, called epicatechin, can increase the levels of nitric oxide in your blood to relax your blood vessels.
This helps to improve blood flow, lower your blood pressure, and can also prevent atherosclerosis, a condition where the arteries harden after becoming clogged with plaque.
Epicatechin can also improve your body’s insulin sensitivity, helping to keep your blood sugar levels under control and reduce the risk of diabetes.
However, not all chocolate is rich in flavonols. White chocolate is not a good source of these antioxidants as it does not contain cocoa solids, and milk chocolate has a higher proportion of milk and sugar rather than beneficial cocoa. Therefore, dark chocolate is the best option, and the higher the percentage of cocoa solids the better.