Scientific research continues to explore the therapeutic effects of eating dark chocolate. The polyphenols and theobromine found in cacao beans have a multitude of health benefits. Here are ten ways that dark chocolate can be used for disease prevention and treatment.
1. Lowering blood pressure
The polyphenols in dark chocolate can improve blood vessel function and lower high blood pressure. In a German study, 44 patients with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension were randomly assigned to receive 6.3g a day of either dark or white chocolate for 18 weeks. Researchers concluded that the inclusion of a small amount of dark chocolate in the patients’ normal diet efficiently lowered their blood pressure without causing changes in body weight. White chocolate had no effect.
2. Preventing blood clots
Doctors often prescribe aspirin to people with heart disease because it lowers the risk of blood clots in arteries that could lead to a heart attack. Research shows that the polyphenols in dark chocolate have a similar anticoagulant effect. In one study, participants were given either a cocoa drink, a caffeine beverage or water. Their blood was then tested. Blood platelet formation decreased after cocoa consumption but increased after caffeine and water consumption.
3. Calming a persistent cough
Dark chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which has been found to be more effective than codeine for treating persistent coughs. It works by suppressing vagus nerve activity to halt the cough reflex. In a clinical trial, approximately 60% of patients given 1000mg of theobromine a day experienced relief from coughing. Unsweetened dark chocolate has about 450mg of theobromine per ounce.