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Valentine’s Chocolate to Boost Your Health

Chocolate is magic. Okay, not really, but it provides benefits that seem magical. Cocoa flavanols improve your mood, boost health, and so, so much more! We’ve got the recipe for magic!

What are Flavanols?

Flavanols are natural plant-based phytochemical compounds found in various types of plants. These serve as antioxidants and provide a number of health benefits. Cocoa flavanols are particularly beneficial, which comes in handy this Valentine’s Day as they can be quite delicious, too. With all of the Valentine’s chocolate consumption, it’s nice to know you may be promoting your health! Be careful, though. Often times, the manufacturing involved with that chocolate bar may have taken out up to 80% of the health-aiding flavanols. To reap the promised health advantages of cocoa, make sure you know your flavanol facts! If you’re going to get your cocoa flavanols in chocolate, the darker the chocolate=the higher the amount of cocoa flavanols. When considering dark chocolates or cocoa powders, make sure it contains at least 50–80% of cocoa to actually contain enough flavanols to effectively boost those health benefits!

Health Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols

Promotes Circulatory Health Maintaining a healthy circulatory system is vital for optimum overall health. Your circulatory system delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, and cocoa flavanols encourage the blood vessels and arteries to stay flexible in order to adequately maintain cardiovascular health. Cocoa raises the nitric oxide levels within the body, widening your blood vessels and therefore assisting in lowering blood pressure and risk of stroke.

Natural Workout Supplement

This nitric oxide boost also makes it quite alluring to athletes for the workout benefits. The decreases stress on your circulatory system enables muscles to function and recover better. This increased rate at which the muscles can recover and repair damaged muscle tissue allows for a decrease in the soreness felt between workouts.

Contains Ample Antioxidants

No surprise here. The more antioxidants your body gets, the more you are warding off disease. Antioxidants target harmful free radicals in your bloodstream that may trigger disease or even cancer. Eliminating those risks by supplying your body with enough antioxidants is something we can all cheer for.

Helps Prevent Cognitive Decline and Possibly Dementia

Cocoa flavanols increase blood flow to the brain, which often decreases with age. By keeping up this healthy blood flow, you’re promoting healthy brain function, aiding in learning and memory, as well as reducing your risks for serious complications later in life.

Assists in Curing Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation

Due to the outstanding benefits to your circulatory system, cocoa flavanols are said to assist in curing insomnia or other issues related to sleep deprivation. A healthy heart and blood pressure will help stop those restless nights tossing and turning.

Can Lower Bad Cholesterol

The plant compounds specific to cocoa flavanols prevent LDL cholesterol (‘bad” cholesterol) from oxidizing. When LDL cholesterol is oxidized, it gets exposed to free radicals and produces inflammation in your arteries.

Improved Mood and Libido

Due to the cocoa flavanols ability to raise the levels of pleasure neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine), it is said to be one of nature’s natural aphrodisiacs and mood enhancers. Phenylethylamine, or PEA, produces chemicals in the brain that are associated with falling in love. There’s no secret why a holiday associated with love is connected with so much chocolate! Furthermore, serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters proven to lift a person’s mood and relax the body.

With the health benefits cocoa flavanols provide, you don’t have to feel too guilty about treating yourself and your Valentine to that chocolate. Just remember, to reap the optimal benefits, you do want to ensure you're consuming a treat with at least 50-80% of cocoa flavanols, and be mindful of the caloric intake. If you can’t find a chocolate treat containing the desired high levels of cocoa flavanols, you can always make it yourself! There are plenty of delicious recipes that provide the benefits of cocoa flavanols without all of the unnecessary additives and calorie-soaring extras. For a sweet and healthy way of including cocoa flavanols in your diet, check out this recipe!

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