Is Chocolate Before Bed a Big No-No?
In honor of National Chocolate Day, we wanted to take a closer look at how (if at all) one of the most delicious eatables known to man affects our ability to get the quality sack time that we need.
Chocolate has been adored by the masses for centuries – it’s hard to find a treat that has been consumed more around the world. There are chocolate production empires that focus solely on supplying us with a variety of delectable chocolate products, from simple bars to extravagant gift boxes.
But while chocolate has an undeniable appeal, there are also many rumors that it is associated with weight gain, poor health, and even insomnia. Our society is officially confused as to whether or not chocolate is good or bad for us. Should we only eat it as a desert? Should we avoid it when trying to lose weight or before bedtime? And what kind of chocolate is the best for consumption, if any?
In an attempt to help shake the mystery surrounding chocolate and our health, we decided to do some digging into just what it is and what impacts (good or bad) it can have on our health.
The Origins of Chocolate
The main ingredient of chocolate is Theobroma Cacao, the Latin term for the cocoa tree, which gives us the aromatically bitter brown powder we use to make various chocolate recipes. Theobroma Cacao literally means “food of gods,” after the ancient Mayan tale of how their gods discovered cocoa and gifted it to the Mayan people. Although the Mayans worshiped cocoa and used it in many recipes and even rituals, they preferred consuming it as it came, never adding any sweeteners.
Unlike the ancient Mayans, we prefer our cocoa products to be sweet, but we do join them in the belief that chocolate is a superfood of sorts – when consumed in the more healthy dark variety, made with more of the original cocoa powder and less of the unhealthy additives found in milk or white chocolate.
Delicious Health Benefits
You’ve probably already heard that chocolate can be used as a mood lifter, brain stimulator, and even an aphrodisiac, but what impact does it have on other areas of your health and wellness?
There have been multiple studies done on the health benefits of chocolate, and all of them have proved that chocolate can be useful for your well-being, depending on the type, ingredients, and amount eaten.
Some of the proven benefits of consuming chocolate include:
Better Heart Health
Thanks to its natural ability to improve the mood, chocolate is considered by many to be a great way to regulate blood pressure and improve general cardiovascular health.
Studies have shown that polyphenols (one of the substances found in cocoa powder) increase the level of the good ADL cholesterol, allowing the level of harmful LDL cholesterol to go down.
And thanks to another ingredient found in cocoa powder call flavanol, consuming chocolate also has beneficial effects on our nitric oxide levels, proving that regular consumption of small portions of dark chocolate helps to prevent the forming of blood clots and other cardiovascular complications, keeping our hearts healthy and strong.
Strange at it may seem, dark chocolate has actually been shown to regulate our appetites when consumed on a regular basis. Compared to milk chocolate, the dark variation has been proven to help us to eat less. Dark chocolate lovers rejoice!
Chocolate is also known to modulate the flow of blood, thanks to the high concentration of flavanols in cocoa powder. This is reflected in our skin by smoothing it and giving it a healthy glow. According to studies done on the effects of dark chocolate on the skin, it can also reduce the negative impact of UV radiation and promote moisturizing of the skin.
It should be kept in mind that while the above health benefits are some very good reasons to add dark chocolate to your regular menu, the amount that you eat should be amended to take your diet and lifestyle in mind, in order to achieve the best results. And eating milk or white chocolate won’t get you the benefits that the dark variety will.
In fact, regularly eating milk or white chocolate could result in the opposite effect – high sugar and fat content in milk and white chocolate can lead to some pretty serious health problems, including obesity and heart disease.
Should You Eat Chocolate Before Bed?
Ironically enough, milk chocolate is actually the best choice for a pre-bed snack, even though it has none of the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Due to the fact that cocoa powder contains high levels of both theobromine and caffeine, it can cause some unsavory effects when eaten before bed, including insomnia and sleep disturbances. It’s even been linked to a higher chance of nightmares and terrors. This means that dark chocolate is a bad choice before bed due to its higher concentration of cocoa powder.
The bottom line here is for overall health, a boost in mood, and increased concentration and energy, dark chocolate is the clear winner. If you’re craving something sweet before turning in for the night, look for a small piece or two of milk or white chocolate for more restful sleep and sweeter dreams.