Whether you’re an avid chocolate connoisseur or merely give in to the occasional sweet tooth craving, research suggests that eating dark chocolate may help boost fertility.
While you may be familiar with the variety of chocolates on the market, not all chocolate is beneficial. As a general rule of thumb, the lighter the chocolate, the more likely it is an unhealthy choice. Typically, this is due to the fact that white chocolate contains higher milk and sugar content, and studies show additional milk can reduce chocolate’s antioxidant capacity by up to 30 percent. These higher sugar and milk levels can also spike insulin, create hormonal imbalances, and even lead to the onset of insulin resistance, which can interfere with fertility, especially if you have a condition like insulin resistant polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Some say that the benefits of eating dark chocolate can be attributed to its antioxidant properties, which may help prevent certain diseases, but antioxidant properties aside, it has also been shown that cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate can also increase blood flow and stimulate the growth of follicles and eggs; ultimately creating a healthy embryo. Additionally, dark chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety, both of which can have a positive impact when trying to conceive.
The benefits of dark chocolate don’t stop with women’s fertility health however, when it comes to male fertility, the quality of sperm goes a long way and dark chocolate can play a helpful role for men. Studies show that flavanols in dark chocolate can help improve the quality of sperm, making them healthier for fertilization. Furthermore, another study show that dark chocolate has beneficial effects on certain reproductive hormones related to male fertility and sperm motility.
In case you are looking for more reason to justify a dark chocolate treat into your fertility diet, below are some benefits of dark chocolate in boosting fertility and reproductive health.
1. Dark Chocolate is Packed with Minerals
Not only is dark chocolate delicious, it has fertility healthy minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, and manganese. These minerals can help increase sperm count and hormonal balance and maintain the DNA integrity of both the egg and sperm. These minerals also help in facilitating proper cell division to help produce healthy sperm.
The benefits don’t stop there however, vital minerals found in dark chocolate also help with maintaining proper endometrial lining thickness, which is essential because it helps nourish the egg. The importance of zinc’s presence can specifically help with male fertility as it boosts testosterone levels, which is responsible for sperm production; can help maintain semen quality, size, and concentration; and is also essential in spermatogenesis, creating sperm cells from stem cells and ensuring their proper development.
2. Dark Chocolate is Rich in Flavonoids
Flavonoids are compounds in plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, and cocoa. Flavonoids also found in dark chocolate include catechins, epicatechins, procyanidins, and proanthocyanidins. These compounds can improve blood flow, and thus means increased oxygen, and can also help regulate hormones such as testosterone and estrogen to boost fertility.
Because of the increased blood flow benefits, dark chocolate’s flavanols improve the ability of sperm to move towards the egg and increase the oxygen flow. This, in turn, makes the uterine wall healthier for better embryo implantation. Research shows that it can help improve implantation rates and increase embryo survival rates when used for IVF treatments.
3. Dark Chocolate Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are another compound found in dark chocolate which improves sperm quality and helps protect against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals, which are molecules that damage cells, can cause diseases and genetic mutations, and can lead to early aging of sperm cells. Antioxidants help by reducing free radical production and protecting DNA from the destructive effects of free radicals and other types of radiation.
4. Dark Chocolate Contains Arginine
Arginine, or l-arginine, is an amino acid that helps synthesize nitric oxide, a chemical that helps increase blood flow. The increased blood flow is then helpful for fertility as it makes the womb lining healthier for embryo implantation and improves the chances of conception. The amino acid also has the ability to increase sperm count and volume of ejaculate.
5. Boosts Sperm Motility
Sperm motility is the ability for sperm to move effectively and rapidly towards an egg for fertilization. Sperm motility is affected by several factors, including hormonal changes, age, and alcohol and drug abuse. These can cause infertility altogether or make fertility treatments more complicated than they need to be. Due to the nutrient makeup and antioxidative properties of dark chocolate, it can have beneficial effects on improving men’s sperm motility.
6. Dark Chocolate Contains Theobromine
Theobromine is a compound stimulant effect on the central nervous system and heart. It helps improve immune function, balance levels of glucose, cholesterol, and fat, and improves blood flow to the brain and muscles. It also helps control blood pressure and prevent premature ejaculation by relaxing the scrotum muscles.
7. Acts as a Natural Antidepressant
It’s easy to joke that chocolate can make us happy, but believe it or not, it actually might be able to. That’s right, dark chocolate can act as a natural antidepressant. It contains endorphins hormones that produce pleasurable feelings like joy or excitement, which make a person happy and relaxed, and can boost serotonin levels, promoting good mood and relaxation. The produced endorphins can also help reduce pain, stress, anxiety, and depression, which is beneficial when trying to conceive, as excessive stress and anxiety can hinder the efforts of conception.
While it’s delicious and beneficial, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation.
Its standout quality is that dark chocolate is a very rich antioxidant that can help protect sperm cells as well as the endometrium lining of the uterus. Promoting overall well-being and fertility, dark chocolate provides the essential nutrients and vitamins that can help couples on their way to a healthy conception, one tasty treat at a time.