Eyesight: Dark chocolate ‘can help to improve visual perception’ and ‘protect from damage’
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Those with a family history of poor vision or retinal health problems might fear that they are destined to encounter these problems at some point in their life. However, research shows that it’s not all genetics. An individual’s diet can also impact their eye health.
Many studies have shown that chocolate has health benefits.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine included data on over 500,000 participants and found that those who regularly eat dark chocolate (two to three 30-gram servings per week) had a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
It noted: “Clinical research on the health effects of chocolate have accelerated in recent years, in particular on cardiometabolic health.
“The present work of 14 prospective cohort studies, with 508,705 participants from six countries and 7267 CHD cases, 8197 stroke cases, and 13,271 diabetes cases provides the most robust and reliable evidence to date of how chocolate consumption may affect risk of cardiometabolic diseases.
“Compared with the lowest intake, the highest consumption of chocolate was associated with decreased risks of CHD, stroke, and diabetes.”
In another study of over 2,000 participants, the more chocolate they reported eating (up to twice per week), the less coronary artery plaque they had.
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Giles Edmonds, Specsavers clinical services director, explains: “As dark chocolate has higher proportions of cocoa in it, it is a much better alternative to milk and white varieties.
“Although often still high in sugar and fat, when eaten in moderation it can be a good source of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and also offers a range of antioxidants, flavonoids and flavones, which can be of benefit to eye health.
“In fact, a study shows that dark chocolate can help to improve visual perception, and another suggests that the flavanols found within dark chocolate can have a positive effect on our blood vessels.
“As our retinas contain lots of blood vessels, this could also have a positive impact on our eyes.
“Other research suggests that flavonoids within dark chocolate can help lower oxidative stress, which can help protect the eyes from damage. And copper, which is also found within dark chocolate, has also been shown to help protect against optic nerve damage.”
Edmonds points out that chocolate can do the following:
- Be a great source of iron, copper, magnesium and zinc
- Improve visual perception
- Support the function of the cornea.
It is believed the cocoa in dark chocolate may increase blood flow to the brain and retina.
This in turn can improve motion detection and improve the capability to see letters of low contrast.
“There are so many more incredible benefits to dark chocolate – but, of course, it is important to maintain a well-balanced and healthy diet to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs,” concluded Edmonds.
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