Question: Is dark chocolate really a healthy treat?
Answer: It can be, depending on the kind of chocolate you choose.
While it’s known that dark chocolate offers some heart-healthy benefits, a new study out this month says the benefits of dark chocolate in moderation may also include improving your eyesight.
Dark chocolate has benefits because of its high levels of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can alter and weaken cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Research has found that flavanols, which are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate, have potential influences on vascular health, including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, the Cleveland Clinic says.
In a study published in the April 26 JAMA Ophthalmology, a journal produced by the American Medical Association, researchers found that some people had a slight improvement in vision after eating dark chocolate.
The study involved providing participants both dark and milk chocolate bars. Two hours after eating the dark chocolate bars, the participants were given vision tests and were found to have improved visual acuity and the ability to read letters of different sizes and contrast in terms of lighter versus darker letters.
“Consumption of a commercially available dark chocolate bar improves the ability to see low- and high-contrast targets, possibly owing to the increased blood flow,” the study authors said, however noting that it is unknown how long the effect on vision will last.
Milk chocolate doesn’t provide the same health benefits, as dark chocolate has more cocoa than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate often has less sugar and saturated fat than milk chocolate.
Researchers at Harvard University Medical School suggest choosing chocolate that has at least 70 percent cocoa or more.
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