Any excuse to eat chocolate is great, and when it also has health benefits to your eyes it is even better! Unlike milk and white chocolate, dark chocolate is high in antioxidant flavonoids and contains a healthy source of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, which offer many eye health benefits including:
Prevents Damage to the Optic Nerve: Since dark chocolate bestows a mix of beneficial nutrients, including copper (which supports healthy nerve function), dark chocolate has been found to help prevent damage to the optic nerve. You only need a small amount of chocolate to gain this benefit, as one serving of dark chocolate can contain over half of your recommended daily allowance of copper.
May Help Protect Against Macular Degeneration:
Macular degeneration is caused by a deterioration of the retina which can severely affect vision. This deteriorative disease is associated with ageing and therefore is the main cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 60. The good news is that the cocoa found in dark chocolate contains Vitamin A, which plays a significant role in the reduction of vision loss due to macular degeneration (AMD).
Helps Prevent Further Damage in Glaucoma Patients: Glaucoma is an eye disease in which gradual damage to the optic nerve leads to vision loss. The flavonoids found in dark chocolate can help lower oxidative stress which can help protect the eyes from further damage.
Enhances Visual Performance:
Eating dark chocolate has been found to enhance visual performance, recent studies suggest. According to the research findings published in the JAMA Ophthalmology in 2018, cocoa that is found in dark chocolate can increase blood flow to the retina and brain. This, in turn, can cause a significant (temporary) improvement in two of the main markers of vision — contrast sensitivity and visual acuity.
Chocolate contains a set of specific polyphenol antioxidants known as flavonoids and essential nutrients, which have known beneficial effects including lowering blood pressure, stabilizing your cholesterol and lipids, but more importantly improving blood flow in the brain, heart and the eyes as we age.
For this reason, several studies have shown that dark chocolate can help to preserve your long-term eye health and prevent age-related eye conditions. However, while the occasional piece of dark chocolate is good for your general health and eye health, make sure you don't lose sight of the fact chocolate is a high caloric food loaded with fat and sugar — therefore you should only consume this tasty treat in moderation or you'll have other health issues to worry about!
This post originally appeared on Auckland Eye.