Chocolate does more than make our bellies happy. It also makes our brains happy! That’s right, dark chocolate has the ability to increase serotonin in the brain due to its chemical make-up of tryptophan (amino acid that helps make serotonin), phenylethylalanine (natural anti-depressant), and theobromine (mood relaxer and stress reliever). The increase is serotonin leads to a good mood and reduction of stress. Thanks to dark chocolate’s mood enhancing properties, chocolate can even reportedly reduce symptoms of depression. In one study of over 13,000 adults, individuals who reported eating dark chocolate within 2 days had 70% less likelihood of reporting symptoms of depression compared to those who didn’t eat any chocolate.
Dark chocolate isn’t just effective for boosting mood. It also increases cognitive functions and attention. Dark chocolate has one of the highest concentrations of phenylethylalanine. Phenylethylalanine, also known as the “Love Drug”, is great for focus. It increases heart rate, alertness, and motivation, working similar to stimulants like coffee. Better yet, chocolate can provide energy without the anxiety and “coffee jitters” that accompany caffeine. The brain benefits don’t stop here. The flavonoids (an important amino acid) found in chocolate helps to improve cognitive performance. In one small study, individuals who consumed high amounts of cocoa flavanols performed better on memory tests than those who consumed less.
Dark chocolate is beneficial to your body too. The flavanols in chocolate are also known to help with cardiovascular disease and improve metabolic health. They have been shown to decrease blood pressure in patients with hypertension and decrease risk of cardiometabolic disorders. A metabolic disorder dark chocolate has evidence of alleviating is diabetes. Thanks to dark chocolate’s high antioxidant composition, it is able to enhance insulin secretion, improve insulin sensitivity, prevent inflammation, and create a fat-lowering effect.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate can also help your skin and even protect it from skin cancer. Antioxidants prevent cancer by protecting your body from the free radicals. One study looked at participants skin before and after regular high-flavanol chocolate consumption. Results showed that the group who consumed more chocolate had less photosensitive skin, suggesting chocolate can prevent oxidative damage from UV radiation thereby decreasing likelihood of developing skin cancer.
To take advantage of the overwhelming health benefits of dark chocolate, we infused cocoa into honey to create our delectable Dutch Chocolate Infused Honey. Use it for some instant energy and focus in the morning. Check out our varying sizes of infused honey here.