Does Dark Chocolate Help Recovery From Workouts?
Dark chocolate has been linked to various benefits that protect and repair your body after exercise, including reduced stress on the heart, improved muscle recovery and reduced fatigue. Many of the studies of the benefits of chocolate analyze the high level of flavanol content in cocoa.
Flavanol content has been linked to lots of cardiovascular benefits, including improved blood flow, arterial elasticity and decreasing blood pressure. Instead of an apple a day, just a square of chocolate might be all you need to improve your recovery after a workout.
Chocolate Makes Exercise Easier
Exercise is hard on your body. Chocolate can help. According to a 2010 study in Australia published in the “British Journal of Nutrition,” overweight and obese participants had 14 percent lower blood pressure when working out after drinking a beverage that had cocoa flavanols in it.
Dark chocolate has a higher flavanol content than milk chocolate. If you are worried about the stress of exercise on your heart, eating a piece of natural dark chocolate may reduce your risk. In fact, it may be one of the most effective things to eat or drink to relieve exercise stress.
Chocolate is Better Than Fruit
A 2010 study published in the “Chemistry Central Journal” compared chocolate to fruit in a battle of antioxidants, and chocolate won. Cocoa powder was found to contain more antioxidants and to have a higher flavanol content than fruit powder.
In addition to the typical cardiovascular protection and recovery benefits of flavanols, chocolate can bring other benefits to your body after exercise, such as improved endurance. But you need to be sure you are eating the correct chocolate: Only natural — also known as nonalkalized — cocoa gives you the biggest benefits.
Chocolate Improves Muscle Recovery
In a study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” it was discovered that cyclists who drank chocolate milk after a 90-minute workout session were able to cut an average of six minutes off their next ride time.
It is possible that one of the reasons for this increase in ability is because chocolate may aid the repair and rebuilding of muscle proteins. Muscle recovery is very important to improving your athletic ability, and this study showed that dark chocolate may speed up that recovery time.
Chocolate Battles Fatigue
Besides helping your body recover by aiding in your muscle rebounding after a workout, dark chocolate enhances fatigue resistance.
While this study was conducted with mice, not humans, the results imply that combining dark chocolate with exercise may cause structural and metabolic improvements in your bones and heart, which results in improved endurance. Bounce back faster and become a better athlete by adding a touch of chocolate into your workout routine. Don’t overdo it, though. All you need is a sixth of an ounce.
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