The connection between leadership and stress is undeniable, often coexisting like two sides of a coin. To be an effective leader, one must adeptly handle the numerous stressors and challenges that come with a position of authority. The weight of responsibilities and demands on leaders can lead to considerable stress, necessitating the development of coping strategies and resilience. But what if we tell you, there is a delicious path to success?
As World Chocolate Day is just around the corner, let's explore how consuming chocolates can work wonders for you. So the next time you feel stressed, you can grab a bar or two of chocolate to lower your stress levels, as research published in 2018 suggested.
The scientists at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Centre in Southern California found that apart from sugar-induced happiness, the consumption of dark chocolate can contribute positively to brain health.
After examining two studies, the researchers discovered that the consumption of dark chocolate, specifically those with a high cacao percentage of over 70%, can effectively lower stress levels and reduce inflammation.
Additionally, their findings revealed that indulging in dark chocolate not only enhances mood, but also boosts memory and strengthens immunity. These results further affirm the notion that chocolate is truly one of the greatest inventions!
Expanding upon prior knowledge regarding the advantages of consuming flavonoids, which possess powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the research highlighted that a typical chocolate bar contains a significant amount of cacao, rich in flavonoids. This abundance of flavonoids found in chocolate can be beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health, as suggested by the researchers.
Dr Lee S. Berk, associate dean of research affairs at Loma Linda and the lead researcher, stated in a press release, "For years, our focus has been on examining the impact of dark chocolate on neurological functions based on its sugar content. The prevailing belief has been that the higher the sugar content, the greater the happiness experienced."
To add even more excitement, Dr Berk revealed that the level of cacao consumption is directly linked to increased happiness. This means that indulging in a few bars of chocolate has a scientific justification behind it.
The positive effects of consuming dark chocolate extend beyond brain health, as previous studies have indicated that it can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is significant to note that the positive impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity, and other beneficial effects are attributed specifically to dark chocolate, as emphasised by Dr Berk.
Choosing the right dark chocolate for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels
When it comes to selecting the most suitable dark chocolate for your health, certain varieties are more favourable for individuals (especially if you have diabetes). Here’s how to ensure you get the maximum nutritional benefits from your choice.
Check the cocoa percentage
Don't assume a chocolate bar labelled ‘dark’ is automatically healthy. Some dark chocolate varieties may have as little as 30 per cent cocoa, making them similar to regular milk chocolate in terms of nutrition. To maximise the health benefits of chocolate, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends selecting a bar with 70 per cent cocoa or higher. The cocoa content is often prominently displayed on the front of the packaging.
Monitor the sugar content
Remember that all types of chocolate, including unsweetened baking chocolate, contain carbohydrates. A report by Every Day Health recommended to limit the carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 15 to 30 grams (g) for a single chocolate snack. For example, three squares of Milk Chocolate (depending upon different brands) may have approximately 18 g of carbs, whereas three squares of Dark Chocolate (depending upon different brands) may have about 14 g. Keeping track of carbs can facilitate better blood sugar management.
Diabetes-friendly ways to savour dark chocolate
- Indulge in a portion of decadent dark chocolate, but keep it to around ¾ to 1 oz. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of dark chocolate and satisfy your sweet cravings without exceeding your calorie, saturated fat, carb, or sugar limits.
- For a diabetes-friendly snack or dessert, consider selecting plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, which is rich in protein and probiotics, known as gut-friendly bacteria. Enhance your yogurt by sprinkling cacao nibs on top. This as a more concentrated way of enjoying the potential benefits of dark chocolate.
- Enhance your morning shake by incorporating a dash of cocoa powder. Adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of natural cocoa, which has the potential to improve heart health. It's worth noting that unsweetened cocoa powder contains minimal sugar content.
Disclaimer: While chocolates can offer various benefits, it is essential to consult with your doctor before incorporating them into your regular diet, especially if you have diabetes or any other existing health condition. Individual medical considerations and dietary restrictions may vary, so it is important to seek personalised advice from a healthcare professional to ensure the consumption of chocolates aligns with your specific health needs.