Chocolate often gets a bad rep for giving us cavities, sugar highs and excess sugar, particularly in the weeks before and following Halloween. But chocolate isn’t all bad. Scratch that — all chocolate isn’t bad. The negative effects often attributed to chocolate are characteristic of milk chocolate, or the chocolate you see on the sides of checkout lines at Safeway and Ralph’s. The chocolate that possesses all the goodness of cacao can be found in dark chocolate, which usually has high cocoa percentages, ranging from 70 to 99 percent cacao.
Dark chocolate has been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and protecting against heart disease. As if this wasn’t reason enough to give it a try, dark chocolate contains natural antioxidants, which preserve cell membranes and protect our DNA. It also prevents plaque from building up in our arterial walls, which can lead to atherosclerosis.
Generally, studies show that consuming dark chocolate in moderation is safe, healthy and beneficial. Contrary to what your mother may have told you, dark chocolate is actually helpful in protecting us against Type 2 diabetes by helping our bodies use insulin efficiently. During this crucial study period before finals, you may be pleased to learn that dark chocolate not only increases blood flow to your heart but to your brain as well. It can therefore help boost cognitive function after consumption thanks to chemical compounds including phenylethylamine, or PEA, which makes us feel more alert.
So, during this dead week and next week during finals, treat yourself to a bar of dark chocolate to feel more stimulated, awake and ready to take on your exams. Stay away from chocolates that contain excess milk and sugar, but if the chocolate contains over 70 percent cacao, indulge yourself. Trust us, you deserve it.
Contact Chelsea Song at [email protected].