24th Nov 2022 • 04 Min and 18 Sec
We are all mortal who wants to improve our health and well-being with simple things without any hassle, but what is the right advice? Is it planking? or squats? Or drinking bacteria to develop mental health? Welcome to the Optimists podcast, I’m Dr. Priyanka, and this is “One Simple Thing.” Here you will learn just one thing to improve your health in ways you might not expect.
Imagine it’s the middle of the afternoon or post-lunch; we will have the urge to snack, especially something sugary. When you have those cravings, allow yourself to eat something that can lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular health, and even boost your brain.
Simple, eat some chocolates, dark chocolate to be precise. It consists of 50 to 90% cocoa solids and flavonoids, a nutrient found in certain plants, which explains why eating dark chocolate is healthier than eating milky ones. Would you be prepared to swap your sugary snacks for something darker? Let’s dive in deeper.
Some of the exciting research about dark chocolate came from the discovery related to the Guna People, who live on the coast of Panama. Population studies found that their blood pressure doesn’t go up as they age. One theory is that Guna people drink a lot of unsweetened cocoa, like up to 5 cups a day.
Researchers believe the plant nutrient, flavonoids might be behind this and other surprising benefits of dark chocolate. Many plants and fruits contain flavonoids, including strawberries, teas, blueberries, apples, and onions. But the bitter seeds of the cocoa tree are particularly rich in flavonoids; even better, you don’t have to eat those seeds to get the benefits; eat dark chocolate with high cocoa content. The highest amount is found in unprocessed dark chocolate. Sadly, there are no flavonoids in white chocolates and very few in milk chocolates.
Recently, a study in Portugal asked 30 healthy volunteers to eat 20g of dark chocolate a day for a month and found that doing it reduced blood pressure in a small but significant amount.
A brain imaging study looked at the effects of the two different drinks on the brains of young adults. One with a high level of flavonoid levels, and the other is low. Not only were those who drank high levels of flavonoid drinks able to complete certain cognitive tests more efficiently, but their brains showed better oxygenation and better blood flow.
The idea of chocolates being good for us looks too good to be true, isn’t it? But there is growing evidence, particularly for heart health and cognitive benefits through the flavonoid elements in cocoa.
Cocoa flavonoids have consistently shown benefits in blood pressure reduction, improvement in blood flow, and improvement in insulin and cholesterol levels.
The other good thing about dark chocolates is; because it’s bitter, you don’t have to eat a huge block of a bar, some squares are enough to satisfy the urge for chocolate. Just 3 to 5 a week, a couple a day, is more than enough dark chocolates to attain all the flavonoid benefits it provides.
And flavonoids are also present in several fruits and vegetables we often eat; for example, the flavonoids you get from 50 grams of a chocolate bar are the same as the 3 apples and a tablespoon of cocoa powder.
The golden rule, is the darker the chocolate, the better for health!
That’s one thing to include in your daily routine for improving your body and life. Join me next time on “One simple thing” for a better tomorrow.