Is dark chocolate good for your health?
Research shows that dark chocolate is full of a plant nutrient called flavonoids. A diet rich in flavonoids could help you feel sharper. Along with strawberries, blueberries, apples, tea, red wine and onions, the cocoa beans of the cacao tree are particularly rich in flavonoids.
Even better, you don’t have to eat the raw beans to get the benefits, just dark chocolate with a high-cocoa chocolate. The highest levels of flavonoids have been found in unprocessed dark chocolate, like Firetree Chocolate. With only 4 ingredients in our dark chocolate and a core collection containing cocoa from 69% to 100% cocoa, it’s a perfect way to top up on the maximum amount of flavonoids found naturally in cocoa.
Dark chocolate and blood pressure
Population studies on the Guna people in Panama. showed that blood pressure doesn’t go up with age, like it does with most other populations. One theory to why this is, is that the Guna people drink a lot of unsweetened cocoa – up to 5 cups a day, in fact!
Supporting this is a recent study in Portugal, which took 30 healthy volunteers and made them eat 20g of dark chocolate a day for a month and found small but significant improvement of their blood pressure levels.
Over in Italy, in a study where ninety older people were asked to consume a high-flavonoid unsweetened cocoa drink, after a short period showed reduced levels of blood pressure, increased levels of insulin resistance and improved cognition. So, this indicates that a small amount of chocolate, even in the short term, can have clinically relevant effect.
Could chocolate really make you smarter?
A brain imaging study of people with high levels of flavonoids compared to low flavonoids completed cognitive tests more competently. Their brains also showed better oxygenation and better blood flow.
The good news is that you can increase your flavonoid levels through drinks and foods rich in flavonoids, like high-cocoa chocolate.
Are cocoa’s flavonoids better than other flavonoids?
Dietary polyphenol researcher at Queen’s University in Belfast, Aedín Cassidy has found that there is growing evidence that flavonoids found in cocoa, specific cocoa flavanols – have found to reduce blood pressure. She also found that across the 42 trials, there have been improvements in blood flow and insulin levels. In one trial, a woman with Type 2 diabetes found increased elasticity of arteries and improvements in insulin and cholesterol LDL levels.
She continued, it seems that “the darker the chocolate – the higher the levels of cocoa flavanols – 75% cocoa and upwards and the more unprocessed the chocolate, the greater the level of these plant nutrients, flavonoids.”
As Firetree chocolate is already so rich in nutrients found naturally in the volcanic soils that the cacao trees are grown upon, the richness comes through to the end chocolate and a couple of squares is all you will need to feel satisfied. What’s even better, is that we are renowned for dark chocolate that is not bitter or astringent, so you will actually get to enjoy your daily dose of cocoa flavonoids.
... Buying a subscription to any of our core bars, limited edition bars, curated collections and luxury Gift Boxes to ensure you will automatically receive a weekly/monthly/annual delivery of Firetree's high cocoa chocolate with no further effort at all!
Improved gut health with flavonoids
The impact of the gut-brain access on health is also affected due to these plant flavonoids and specifically the cocoa flavanols. These little power houses have been shown to reach the large gut, showing that very little has been metabolised before that meaning that the gut bacteria munch up the nutrients into metabolites that are much more cardio protective than the parent compounds.
What does this mean for the brain? Well, the metabolites then travel through the blood to the heart and the brain and cross the blood-brain barrier with the potential to have neuro-protective effects and impact neuroplasticity. These metabolites are then getting into brain tissue and seem to have effects on cerebral blood flow and good signs for cognitive abilities, like learning and memory, as well as have shown improvements in memory and speed of recall.
With all the recent research, it seems that for best health, bite through an apple, followed by a glass of red wine or tea and enjoy a taste experience of a couple of squares of Firetree at the same time for a high dose of the very specific cocoa flavanols that only unprocessed, high-cocoa chocolate can bring.
Our pick of the best ways to boost your health through Firetree Chocolate
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Exploring this selection of best-selling high-cocoa bars and hot chocolates from Firetree including our NEW High-cocoa Collection: