Any excuse to eating chocolate is great, and when it also has health benefits to your eyes it is even better. Unlike milk and white chocolate, dark chocolate has a higher proportion of cocoa and this is where a lot of the health benefits come from. Dark chocolate is still high in sugar and fat, but when eaten in moderation can provide a healthy source of iron, copper, magnesium, fibre, zinc, manganese, and selenium, and cocoa offers copious amounts of antioxidants, flavonoids and flavones. Milk and white chocolate will not be able to give these benefits as they normally have an even higher sugar and fat content and not enough cocoa. You don’t need much dark chocolate to obtain the health benefits and choosing a dark chocolate with at least 70-80% cocoa is best. While dark chocolate can provide many health benefits as mentioned above it is also great for eye health. Here are a few of these benefits;
As we saw above dark chocolate can provide a healthy source of copper and this has been found to help prevent optic nerve damage. You only need to intake a small amount of copper on a daily basis and a serving of dark chocolate can contain over half of your recommended daily allowance of copper.
Macular degeneration is more often found in older adults and is caused by deterioration of the retina. Macular degeneration can severely affect vision and is a main cause of loss of vision in adults over the age of 60. Vitamin A can help protect against macular degeneration and luckily dark chocolate contains levels of Vitamin A due to the cocoa.
Glaucoma is an eye disease where the optic nerve becomes damaged and if not treated this can lead to partial or full vision loss. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate can help lower oxidative stress which can protect the eyes from more damage.
Studies have shown that young adults eating dark chocolate had enhanced visual performance. 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.
Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.
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