Chocolate… more than just being tasty!
January 31, 2022 - By Sabrina Lamarre
Chocolate is a food that is craved by many. Besides its yummy taste and the pleasure it gives us, does it really offer any other benefits?
Is chocolate good for exercise?
The polyphenols and antioxidants found in cocoa beans are believed to help individuals improve their athletic performance1. However, more research is needed before we can say that eating chocolate alone will improve your performance.2
On the other hand, several vitamins (A, B, E) and minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper) are found in cocoa beans, which are essential to the proper functioning of the body and therefore to the practice of physical activity.3 However, it is preferable to consume them outside of training periods, because their fat content makes this food slower to digest.
Why drink chocolate milk after a workout?
Chocolate milk is an interesting post-workout beverage because it contains carbohydrates and protein, two main macronutrients required after an activity. Moreover, the ratio and the quantities found in it are optimal.
Does dark chocolate prevent you from sleeping?
Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate. It is therefore more concentrated in theobromine and caffeine.4 These two molecules have stimulating effects on the body.
In 50 g of dark chocolate with 70 to 85% cocoa, there are 40 mg of caffeine and 400 mg of theobromine compared to 20 mg of caffeine and 250 mg of theobromine in milk chocolate with 45-59% cocoa.5, 6
For this reason, one may think that milk chocolate would be the better choice before going to sleep. However, milk chocolate contains more sugar, which can also affect sleep. It would be wiser to opt for a non-chocolate snack at the end of the night if you have trouble sleeping.
Is chocolate good for you?
A meta-analysis of 23 studies including 405,304 participants showed that chocolate consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.7 The optimal dose to reduce this risk is 45 g per week, but consumption of more than 100 g could cancel out this effect, given the higher sugar intake in our diet.7
Chocolate would also have positive effects on stress, because when it is consumed, we observe an increase in serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter.8 Moreover, some studies even suggest that cocoa would have effects on the microbiota, leading to beneficial impacts on our health and various diseases.9
Several studies are promising regarding the benefits of chocolate. Although the number is scarce, only some of these research studies focus on cocoa which does not contain sugar. We must therefore be careful in interpreting the results.
So, if you want my advice, I will say enjoy your piece of chocolate, not only for its potential physical benefits, but more for its good taste and the mental satisfaction it gives you! 😉
- (Somerville V, Bringans C, Braakhuis A. Polyphenols and Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2017;47(8):1589–1599.)
- (d’Unienville, N., Blake, H. T., Coates, A. M., Hill, A. M., Nelson, M. J., & Buckley, J. D. (2021). Effect of food sources of nitrate, polyphenols, L-arginine and L-citrulline on endurance exercise performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 18(1), 76. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00472-y)
- Kim, J., Kim, J., Shim, J., Lee, C. Y., Lee, K. W., & Lee, H. J. (2014). Cocoa phytochemicals: recent advances in molecular mechanisms on health. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 54(11), 1458-1472.
- (Martin, M. Á., & Ramos, S. (2021). Impact of cocoa flavanols on human health. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 112121.)
- Gouvernement du Canada, Fichier canadien sur les éléments nutritifs. Profil nutritionnel : Bonbons, chocolat noir, 70-85% solides de cacao (en ligne). https://aliments-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/report-rapport.do (page consultée le 19 janvier 2022)
- Gouvernement du Canada, Fichier canadien sur les éléments nutritifs. Profil nutritionnel : Bonbons, chocolat noir, 45-59% solides de cacao (en ligne). https://aliments-nutrition.canada.ca/cnf-fce/report-rapport.do (page consultée le 19 janvier 2022)
- Ren, Y., Liu, Y., Sun, X. Z., Wang, B. Y., Zhao, Y., Liu, D. C., … & Hu, D. S. (2019). Chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Heart, 105(1), 49-55.
- Benton, D., & Donohoe, R. T. (1999). The effects of nutrients on mood. Public health nutrition, 2(3a), 403-409.
- Sorrenti, V., Ali, S., Mancin, L., Davinelli, S., Paoli, A., & Scapagnini, G. (2020). Cocoa polyphenols and gut microbiota interplay: bioavailability, prebiotic effect, and impact on human health. Nutrients, 12(7), 1908.
Chocolate… more than just being tasty! is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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