We already know that chocolate, especially dark and real ones, is good for our health. This is mainly due to its high concentration of antioxidants which improves cell life and blood flow. But what about a new hypothesis? Researchers keep studying, and one of the most recent dark chocolate benefits they’ve been considering is the relationship between better eyesight and dark chocolate consumption. Remember, when we were kids, and the grown-ups told us to eat enough carrots to make our vision better and sharper? Well, dark chocolate might be our ally here too, and that’s what we will review in this article.
I think that real chocolate lovers (and I include myself in that list) don’t think enough about all the dark chocolate benefits. It’s already a habit for us, eat a piece of chocolate daily, like having breakfast or brushing our teeth. However, there are multiple health benefits that we must keep in mind.
In 2018, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a clinical trial that studied the effects of chocolate in visual acuity or contrast sensitivity within two hours after consumption.
In that trial, the authors studied thirty participants without any eye conditions. Fifteen of them got a 72% cacao dark chocolate bar that contained 316.3mg of flavonols (a kind of antioxidants), and the other fifteen got a milk chocolate bar that contained 40 mg of flavonols (8 times less than the dark chocolate bar). The investigators wanted to compare the results when eating a specific kind of chocolate (dark or milk).
The Rosenberg School of Optometry in San Antonio, Texas led the testing. They evaluated the clarity of vision (visual acuity) and large-small-letter contrast sensitivity. The study concluded that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were significantly higher two hours after eating pieces of a dark chocolate bar compared with a milk chocolate bar.
In their final report, they explained that it could be due to the highly vascularized retina, the membrane inside our eyeball that allows us to see. It may be most susceptible to enhanced blood flow and increased metabolic supply afforded by flavonols in dark chocolate. (article HERE)
However, the brand or origin of the chocolates used was not specified. Could you imagine if they had used high-quality bean-to-bar chocolate? The results could be even more significant since craft chocolate makers pay special attention to preserve the qualities of the bean as much as possible.
The medical explanation that supports the dark chocolate benefits to our vision is that flavonols improve blood flow (also in the eyes), as Monique Tello explains. Monique is a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, who wrote an article for the Harvard Health Publishing, where she explains the following:
“There may be a common pathway between the visual perception improvements and the cardiovascular protective effect, namely the effect of plant molecules called polyphenols. The polyphenols found in cacao are called flavanols. These have an especially positive effect on our blood vessels, by healing damage to the lining, relaxing the muscle, and improving blood flow” (article HERE)
Still, science might require more research to determine the duration of the effects named above and the long-term benefits for our eyesight.
Nevertheless, the research studies previously mentioned agreed that a single dose of one or two squares of dark chocolate daily can consistently improve sight and general health. Also, they highly recommend, as we do, including this incredible treat as a part of a healthy routine: Get a small and consistent portion of high-quality craft chocolate.
I will undoubtedly keep tracking and looking at these interesting studies about other “less common” dark chocolate benefits for health and getting my daily dose of chocolate with one of my all-time favorites:
Ramón E. Martínez