March 13, 2013
Everyone knows that carrots are good for promoting healthy vision; it’s the beta-carotene contained in carrots that makes the vegetable a powerful food for eye health. But recent research has found that a much sweeter, favorite snack can also be responsible for eye health – chocolate.
Finding yet another health benefits of chocolate , scientists with the University of Reading in England tested the vision of 30 men and women before and a few hours after eating a chocolate bar. (Doesn’t sound so bad , huh?) Half of the participants received white chocolate and the other half received dark chocolate. Those who received dark chocolate performed better on vision tests—better than before the tests and better than the other participants who received white chocolate. Their findings were published in Physiology and Behavior .
The study abstract’s research highlights states:
“Acute cocoa supplementation enhances the visual performance of young adults. Cocoa improved reading of low contrast letters, and detection of motion. We propose that increased blood flow to the retina and brain explains this. We also replicated the recent finding that cocoa improves cognitive ability.”
So, why did the dark chocolate outperform the white? dark chocolate has higher concentrations of flavonoids, the antioxidant compounds also found in teas, some fruits, and red wine. The scientists say these flavonoids are able to increase blood flow to the brain and the retina of the eye.
This means a piece of high quality dark chocolate could help you see better in low-contrast conditions. The results were said to be most pronounced in those over the age of 25.
In addition, like the beta-carotene in carrots, dark chocolate contains a small amount of vitamin A, which protects against macular degeneration .
As if that wasn’t enough, the copper in chocolate helps to protect your eyes from damage. Dark chocolate contains 0.5 mg of copper per 1 ounce serving  and you only need about .9 mg of this mineral each day. Copper, according to the Archives of Neurology, prevents damage to the optic nerves .
As with the Reading University study, however, these benefits are most pronounced in chocolate that has the highest concentration of flavonoids. And these are most concentrated in dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate has less sugar and is less processed than lighter or milk chocolates. It can seem bitter to someone who is not used to it, but many find it delicious – and you can too after giving it a chance. You can find it in bars or in powdered form to use in recipes.
Now, along with those carrots– eat your chocolate for healthy eyes! (Chocolate helps with weight loss too ).
NBC News