It may be summer outside, but don’t forget to include a bit of dark chocolate in your healthy snack. The key is to use dark chocolate made with a high-cocoa content, low unhealthy-fats, and very little sugar. A few different ways to enjoy a dark chocolate snack in the summer include: dark chocolate ice cubes, fruit dipped in dark chocolate, homemade dark chocolate ice cream, and dark chocolate pudding or mousse in addition to the traditional bar of dark chocolate.
Why dark chocolate? Because dark chocolate contains antioxidants, caffeine, endorphins, and serotonin which offer many health benefits. According to research presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting, “consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70% cacao, 30% organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immunity” as well as cognition.
Let’s take a look at how caffeine, endorphins, serotonin, and antioxidants play a role.
As many Chicago employees know, caffeine can provide an energy boost when one is feeling tired. But caffeine does more than just decrease fatigue. Caffeine offers a short-term mental boost, improves memory, and even helps decrease pain sensitivity in some individuals with chronic pain.
Endorphins & Serotonin
While endorphins are a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system, and serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter, both have a similar effect. They can both improve a Chicago employee’s mood. Endorphins create feelings of pleasure, and serotonin elevates one’s mood.
Understanding the impact of antioxidants is a bit more complicated. There are many different types of antioxidants. Several of the ones that come into play with dark chocolate include flavonoids (flavanols, flavonols (source of the antioxidant qualities), epicatechin and procyanidins) and polyphenols. Flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, improve cognitive function, help absorb UV light, increase blood flow to the skin, improve skin texture, increase skin hydration, fight inflammation and oxidative stress—improving blood flow, improve cardiovascular health, reduce insulin resistance, and decrease cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Those are a lot of benefits!
The benefits from antioxidants are often seen in Chicago individuals when three to four ounces of dark chocolate made with 70 percent to 80 percent cocoa are enjoyed each day. Don’t forget to avoid dark chocolate made using processing methods such as fermenting, alkalizing, and roasting as they cause important flavonoids to be lost.
Can your Chicago employees find a healthy dark chocolate snack in their office break room? Offering healthy vending machine options is one way that your organization can support your employees’ health. For more information about adding vending services to your place of business, contact Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216. We look forward to working with you.