Dark chocolate is an antioxidant-rich food that has been associated with many health benefits. It may help with cardiovascular and muscle recovery, improve endurance, reduce inflammation, and protect the skin from sun damage. A small study found that dark chocolate can increase the heart's efficiency at burning calories.
In addition to these health benefits, dark chocolate is also a tasty snack. It's high in magnesium, which is important for energy production and reducing muscle cramps. This makes it an excellent running fuel.
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Another surprising benefit of dark chocolate is its ability to improve nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, which allows blood vessels to open wide and relax muscles. The increase in nitric oxide can improve fatigue, endurance, and performance.
Some studies have shown that flavonols, a type of flavonols found in cocoa, can help increase nitric oxide levels in the blood. This helps improve the brain's function and the flow of oxygen to the body.
These antioxidants can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Too many free radicals can lead to certain diseases, such as cancer.
In the UK, researchers tested the effect of dark chocolate on a group of nine amateur cyclists. After eating the dark chocolate, their heart rates were measured during moderate exercise. The study found that participants burned more calories during their ride and used less oxygen.
The study was supervised by a senior lecturer in sports analysis James Brauner. It is possible that the placebo effect played a role in this small study.