Ever wish that your favorite chocolate bar could be healthy? Well as it turns out, some forms of chocolate actually do offer powerful health benefits. This is all thanks to a specific compound called epicatechin.
This compound, considered to be a flavonol, is found in small amounts in certain foods like green tea and dark chocolate. While dark chocolate tends to be the most predominant source of naturally occurring epicatechin, you can also find it in other foods including apples, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries. Note that dark chocolate, however, contains four to five times the dosage of these other foods, giving you a good reason to indulge.
So what are the benefits of epicatechin? Let’s take a closer look.
Improved Muscle Strength And Growth
If you’re working hard in the gym, this compound can work in your favor. It’ll help to prevent myostatin levels from rising too high. This is important because myostatin is a regulator of muscle growth and can actually limit the amount of muscle size increase you can see on any given day.
Enhanced Muscular Endurance
When you’re in the gym and want to give up on that last set, what gets you through? For many people, nothing. When fatigue sets in, that’s the end of their workout and this puts a direct limitation on the results that they see.
If you happen to be using epicatechin however, you’ll have extra power. One study2 published in the Journal of Physiology noted that subjects using this compound showed greater overall resistance against fatigue and improved oxidative capacity. Meaning, you can get more oxygen to the muscle tissues, which can then help with the delay of onset of fatigue.
Remember that the more reps you can squeeze into any given workout session, generally speaking, the better your overall results will be.
Improved Blood Glucose Control
If you want to stay lean in the long run, managing your blood sugar levels is going to be critically important. Here again, epicatechin can help. Research3 published in the hypertension journal noted that in addition to helping with better blood glucose control through improved insulin sensitivity, adding cocoa powder to their daily diet helped subjects reduce their blood pressure as well.
The better insulin sensitivity you experience, the more likely you are to shuttle incoming carbohydrates to the muscle tissues rather than the body fat stores, thus experiencing a better overall body composition.
Improved Cholesterol Profile
Finally, if you are someone who wants to do your part to defend against heart disease, know that having a little dark chocolate may help out here as well. Research1 published in the Molecules journal noted that this compound along with galic acid and catechin may help to lower the total level of bad cholesterol in the body, resulting in a lower overall risk factor for heart disease.
So as you can see, this is one compound you don’t want to be missing out on. the great news is that it’s also available in supplemental form, so you don’t have to consume all the calories from dark chocolate to get it if you don’t want to. This said, that doesn’t mean a small square of dark chocolate isn’t something that you can indulge in from time to time.