Allessia—Chocoholics are breaking free from their anonymous status and spreading the good (for you) news. Recent studies suggest that chocolate can do more for the heart than just help you get over Mr. Not-So-Right. Here are all the reasons we’re turning to chocolate to boost our workouts.
Chocolate for recovery – muscle repair
Let out your inner kid and embrace the chocolaty moo once again. Scientists have studied the effects of chocolate milk as a recovery drink and, as it turns out, it stacks up against (and even out-performs) popular sports drinks such as Gatorade. The beverage is packed with essential carbohydrates and protein (and tons of other nutrients) that are key to recovery and muscle repair after intense exercise. Rock your milk moustache within two hours after a sweat session to get the most out of the drink.
Chocolate for yoga – magnesium and flexibility
Our favourite chocolatier/AcroYoga® teacher Daniel Scott, tells us that raw dark chocolate (we’re talking 70% cacao or more) can be a seriously healthful food. If you manage to get your hands on a good bar (we love Fearless Chocolate) then you and your yoga practice will be in for a real treat. Cacao is one of the richest food sources of magnesium and magnesium is said to improve flexibility. You don’t need to tell us twice: chocolate + yoga = a very good thing.
Chocolate for endurance – fatigue-resistant muscles
The effects of chocolate on endurance are still in the testing process but if the University of California study keeps its cadence, we can thank the mice-athletes for another excuse to indulge (lightly). Participants who we’re given epicatechin (cacao’s primary nutritional ingredient) in combination with exercise, covered 50 percent more distance than those who didn’t get the sweet treat. Scientists found that their muscles were making new mitochondrion which means more fatigue-resistant muscles. The bad news is that only a very small amount of chocolate is needed to intensify the effects of a workout – very small as in half of one square of a typical chocolate bar. The challenge is to only eat one piece!
Chocolate for the heart – increased blood flow
Turns out it’s true, chocolate can heal heartache. Chocolate lovers rejoiced when research from the University of Cambridge unveiled that there might be a link between chocolate consumption and the prevention of heart disease and stroke. The study suggests that chocolate can help increase blood flow to your heart, which puts less strain and stress on your ticker.
Choose your weapon wisely; dark chocolate has the greatest health benefits, while milk chocolate and white chocolate show little to no effect at all. And let’s not forget that chocolate is still high in sugar and fat which will inevitably reverse any benefits if you have too much. Just remember the golden (wrapper) rule: everything in moderation. I always bring a toonie on my runs so that I can grab a cho-milk on the way home. How do you incorporate the benefits of chocolate into your healthy lifestyle?