Researchers have found that certain compounds in chocolate cause the brain to release endorphins which are chemicals that make us feel good. Other compounds in chocolate improve cognitive function, increase energy, and help normalize appetite. A study led by Professor Ian MacDonald of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom found that “consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols — a key ingredient of dark chocolate — boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours” thus improving cognitive ability. (Science Daily)
Chocolate is also rich in the same polyphenol antioxidants found in red wine. Antioxidants have been scientifically proven to protect the body against free radical damage—one of the main causes of premature aging and artery-clogging plaque, a main cause of atherosclerosis. According to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., a registered dietitian at Pennsylvania State University: “New and yet-to-be-published studies are showing that antioxidants in chocolate -- dark chocolate and cocoa powder -- may increase "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels by as much as 10 percent.” (CNN.com) Other studies have shown that consuming chocolate can indeed lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation.
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