With all the bad news we are inundated with that everything we like to eat is bad for us, it’s nice to get some good news every now and then that something we like actually has some health benefits. The best news in that arena we’ve heard in quite some time came from a recent article published in JAMA Opthalmology last week, found that dark chocolate might boost the clarity and sharpness of our vision. The researchers found that those who ate dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate scored higher in vision tests for improved visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, particularly small letter sensitivity.

Eating dark chocolate can improve blood flow to both the visual cortex and retinal vessels. Flavonoids are one group of phytochemicals that have antioxidant abilities. Cocoa beans are good sources of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a large group of plant-based antioxidants. The type of flavonoids found in chocolate are flavanols. Unsweetened cocoa powder has 88 to 96 percent cocoa solids. Dark chocolate contains 45 to 80 percent cocoa solids, and milk chocolate has 5 to 7 percent. Flavonoids exert a protective effect on blood vessels via antioxidant properties in scavenging harmful free radical compounds, but also by improving vascular endothelial function.

Eating 1 to 2 ounces of dark chocolate daily may result in health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, according to New York University. However, any benefits from flavonoids must be considered against the calories, fat and sugar you’ll get from most chocolate. One ounce of dark chocolate averages 170 calories.

The test published in JAMA showed the positive results lasted around 2 hours and so, therefore, might not aid in any long-term vision improvement, but I, like most of you, am willing to give dark chocolate a delicious fighting chance to prove itself.

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