Good news for all the chocolate drink lovers out there: it’s good for your brain! If you needed a reason to indulge in your favorite treat, this is a reason as good as any. Despite being known as a guilty pleasure for many, chocolate is actually packed with all kinds of nutrients that are a source of many health benefits. Many studies show that there are several brain benefits of chocolate. Read on to find out what they are!
While the experience of having some chocolate is delightful enough in itself, it does more good for your mood than you think.
Chocolate is a good source of several chemicals, such as tryptophan. This chemical triggers serotonin production, which is in charge of moods and happiness. Chocolate also contains chemicals such as phenylethylamine and theobromine. These chemicals are associated with positive feelings like contentment and pleasure.
Chocolate also jumpstarts the production of another chemical known as endorphins. Also known as a “feel-good” chemical, endorphins trigger positive feelings often described as “euphoric”. Endorphins also reduce feelings of pain and stress.
More than that, chocolate also helps with the production of anandamide. This is known as the “bliss molecule.” Our brain uses anandamide to release dopamine in small amounts, giving us that feeling of bliss as we enjoy chocolate.
Aside from all the happy chemicals that chocolate contains, it also contains an antioxidant compound called flavonoids. These compounds are known to promote blood flow all around your body, including your brain.
Healthy blood flow is one of the most important factors for brain health. It ensures that the brain receives an ample supply of oxygen, nutrients, and energy. In addition, proper blood flow helps filter out waste and toxins from the brain, which in turn, protects its health.
We mentioned that your brain needs oxygen, but did you know it needs quite a lot of it? Your brain uses about 20% of all the oxygen your body takes in. While this is necessary, it does expose your brain to a problem: free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules. These can damage cells and cause illnesses. Luckily, the antioxidants found in chocolate can help protect your brain as they neutralize free radicals.
Flavonoids are not just beneficial for blood flow, but also for battling inflammation. Inflammation is a natural immune response of the body. However, experiencing high and chronic inflammation can eventually damage your brain.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of brain conditions, such as depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. So, the anti-inflammatory effect of chocolate is beneficial in keeping your brain in its best condition.
The compounds in chocolate can enter your brain. When they do, they tend to gather in specific brain regions, namely those involved in learning, memory, and focus. The flavonoids in chocolate then promote the formation of new neurons, support their function, and protect them from damage. The result is a significant boost in your memory, attention span, and problem-solving skills!
This effect is enhanced even more by chocolate’s ability to promote blood flow toward your brain. What’s more is chocolate contains caffeine, which is a known brain booster. Consuming chocolate can help further improve your mental performance.
Chocolate contains all kinds of nutrients, but one of the most important ones is magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays many roles in your overall health. Its top benefit for your brain is that it helps reduce your stress and anxiety.
Magnesium does this by inhibiting your brain’s production of the hormone cortisol. This is known as a stress hormone. So, eating some chocolate can not only make you feel happier but also less stressed!
Your gut health affects every aspect of how your body feels and functions. In fact, the state of your gut can even affect how your brain works.
The balance of gut bacteria, in particular, is important for your brain health. Too much “bad” bacteria affects how much brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is produced. This chemical is crucial for keeping existing brain cells healthy, and for creating new brain cells.
Chocolate helps in this regard by acting as a prebiotic. What this means is that it increases the amount of “good” bacteria in your gut, while keeping “bad” bacteria in check.
Eating chocolate and gaining a healthy dose of all its nutrients, biochemicals, and flavonoids has a lot of benefits for your brain in the long run. It may help prevent age-related brain conditions, such as strokes and dementia.
As we mentioned earlier, chocolate does a lot in terms of fighting off free radicals and inflammation, which are the root cause of such brain conditions. Chocolate also helps in decreasing insulin resistance as you age. This is necessary for preventing brain cell death. When your brain cell becomes insulin-resistant, they struggle to get the glucose they need — and eventually die off.
There are many brain benefits of chocolate that make it a great snack. That said, the best way to get such benefits is to choose the healthiest source of high-quality chocolate — such as Bona Vita’s 8-in-1 Choco! Not only does it provide all the benefits we mentioned, but also many other advantages to your health, thanks to its added organic ingredients of bacopa monnieri, guyabano, and more!
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