World chocolate day is celebrated every year on July 7. When consumed in large amounts and frequently chocolate will cause weight gain, consumed in moderation and the right kind of chocolate certainly has unique health benefits.
According to experts, dark chocolate is beneficial for overall health as it is packed with antioxidants and contains various essential nutrients.
Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility shares some scientifically proven fertility inducing benefits of dark chocolate:
For enhancing chances of conception: Arginine, one of the vitamins found in dark chocolate is a building block of the chemical nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has the capacity to dilate the small blood vessels which increases blood flow to the end organ.
Increased blood flow to the uterus means a healthier lining of the womb and a good bed for the embryo to implant onto. Increased blood flow to the ovary means better growth of the follicle and better nutrition to the growing egg, resulting in better quality egg of better maturity and in turn a better embryo.
Managing insulin resistance: Consuming dark chocolate can reduce cravings for refined sugar which is crucial to manage insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is an underlying cause of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). In women with PCOS, insulin resistance can disrupt the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation and increase risk of developing diabetes.
Good stress buster: It is a well-known fact that stress hampers fertility. Hypothalamus, a gland located in the brain, controls your hormones, appetite, and emotions. Stress and anxiety hamper the working of this gland. Excessive stress may thus delay your ovulation and make you put on weight.
Dark chocolate releases beta endorphins which are neuro-chemicals that are responsible for the feel-good state of mind and make you feel relaxed and reduce stress.
Dark chocolate is also rich in serotonin, a chemical naturally present in the brain tissue. Serotonin has anti-depressant properties and this will further help reduce anxiety, cause mood elevation and induce a state of relaxed wellbeing.
Dealing with hormonal imbalance: Raw cacao beans are very rich in iron, calcium, zinc, manganese and potassium. These minerals act as co-enzymes and micronutrient factors for maintaining hormonal balance and DNA integrity of eggs and sperm.
Take home message is that, dark chocolate has multiple benefits. Milk chocolate and white chocolate don’t offer the same. Chocolate should be ingested in moderation because commercially available chocolates add fat, sugar and calories to improve the taste and smoothness of their product. Increased consumption can cause weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. So if you are planning to add chocolate to your diet, let it be dark chocolate.