Chocolate is usually considered candy, something you should avoid in your everyday diet, but more studies are showing the positive health effects that dark chocolate has on the body. So, instead of trying to stay away from the notoriously delicious treat, we at Trinity Eye Care see it a little differently.
Dark chocolate has been known for being beneficial to cardiovascular health by lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and for decreasing the amount of coronary artery plaque. A recent study by Harvard Health now shows the positive effect dark chocolate has on a different area of health: vision.
The Harvard study tested the impact that milk chocolate and dark chocolate had on visual perception–specifically visual acuity, large and small letter contrast, and sensitivity. They found improvements in all 3 categories in subjects who ate a 47-gram dark chocolate bar containing 72% cacao after only two hours.
Dark chocolate is beneficial for both visual and cardiovascular health because of specific plant molecules called polyphenols, the ones found in cacao beans explicitly known as flavonoids. These compounds are naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables, chocolate, and beverages, such as wine and tea, and have been shown to display anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities.
In short, foods and drinks containing flavonoids have been proven to have a very positive effect on blood vessels by healing the damage to the lining, relaxing the muscles, and improving blood flow. Scientists hypothesize the reason dark chocolate is beneficial to visual perception is because of increased oxygen and nutrients to the blood vessels of the eye and brain.
Dark chocolate is very versatile. Adding dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder to a smoothie not only helps you get your daily dose of antioxidants and flavonoids in, but the intense flavor helps to mask the taste of greens such as kale, making it easier to get your daily greens in as well. Other ways to incorporate dark chocolate into your diet include a homemade breakfast bar, cereal, or drizzling it over hot oatmeal or a banana for breakfast.
Eating this nutritional powerhouse can improve cardiovascular health, visual perception, help with weight loss, fight stress, and boost your brain power. So get creative with how you add it to your diet! You’ll literally see results.