It is chocolate season and at Easter, we tend to indulge a bit as we partake of the festivities. From the hunting eggs, to smashed chocolate egg cookies and decorated chocolate bunnies of all sizes, we enjoy the sweetness in abundance.
Tesco offers online are currently trending as they’re offering all kinds of Easter treats together with amazing meal recipes for this period. We all want time to relax and enjoy some good food with family and friends, but the chocolate-binge guilt always gets us
As health conscious footballers, we know chocolate is the last food group you’d consider on your fitness meal-plan. There is obvious worry that a combination of reduced training volumes and richer food will lead to excess pounds, and a harder slog when proper training is resumed. This may come as a surprise to you then, that we are encouraging you to eat more dark chocolate.
We did some research and discovered that cocoa, the bean from which most chocolate is made, is actually rich in phytochemicals that are beneficial to your health and physical performance. According to recent studies, eating dark chocolate everyday can help athletes and fitness enthusiasts train better. The benefits of cocoa are actually compared to those from beetroot juice taken daily to boost performance.
Just how good is cocoa? Here are 4 health benefits of dark chocolate that can positively affect every footballer’s health and fitness plans:
- Cocoa is good for the heart
Studies at Kingston University in London found dark chocolate to give athletes an extra edge in their fitness training. This is because cocoa has properties that help to dilate blood vessels that increase blood flow to the heart, thereby causing better performance.
Moreover, cocoa has oleic acid which helps to increase high-density lipoprotein, HDL, the good form of cholesterol in our bodies that helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Cocoa lowers blood pressure
Regular consumption of cocoa-rich chocolate (70% and above) can improve blood flow through the tiny capillaries in the body (endothelial blood flow), leading to reduced blood pressure.
- Cocoa is high in immune boosting nutrients
Iron, Zinc, and copper are all present in cocoa. Iron is used for red blood cell formation, it helps with metabolism and temperature regulation. Zinc is good for healing wounds, immune function, and a proper development of the sense of taste and smell. Copper, only needed in small amounts, is useful for red blood cell formation and keeping our nerves, bones, blood vessels and immune system healthy.
- Cocoa reduces inflammation
As you burn calories on and off the pitch, you produce cell-damaging free radicals in your muscle tissue. Dark chocolate contains flavanols that have been shown to increase production of anti-inflammatory properties thereby causing less damage to your body.
There are many other benefits to eating dark chocolate and taking cocoa in other forms, so go ahead and indulge a little. Your body will thank you.