The Biohacker's Guide to Chocolate

The biohacking movement has officially gone mainstream, and chocolate is getting a PR boost in the process (not that it needed the help!).

While big-name entrepreneurs such as Dave Asprey and Tim Ferriss have helped popularize the concept of biohacking in recent years, they’re no longer the only folks getting in on the action. The trend has attracted such a large cadre of fervent practitioners that Outside magazine identified the fad as a “Cult of Biohacking” back in 2015.

But just in case you’re not familiar, let’s quickly break it down: “Biohacking” involves optimizing your physical and mental performance through careful control over what you put into your body and when. This includes the use of a wide range of “smart drugs” (aka nootropics) ranging from herbal blends to everyday substances such as caffeine and chocolate.

In fact, many biohacking advocates use chocolate as a mild cognitive enhancer. It’s accessible, familiar, and well-liked by a lot of people, which makes it an easy platform for introducing the concept of biohacking. And it’s effective. The physiological and mental benefits of chocolate are well proven enough that some biohackers recommend consuming dark chocolate every day. Here’s why chocolate is a beloved staple in the diets of biohackers.

It’s full of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which have been shown to help fight off damaging free radicals, boost immunity, provide sustained energy, and even assist in the prevention and/or management of a variety of health conditions including arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and some cancers. That’s a serious health punch wrapped up in a tasty package.

It’s packed with magnesium.

Dark chocolate is a great source of magnesium, which is an essential nutrient that many Americans don’t get enough ofMagnesium is responsible for maintaining a wide range of biochemical functions in the body, which collectively assist in regulating energy, muscle movements, DNA repair, nervous system functions, and so on. The nutrient has also been shown to improve exercise performance, relieve symptoms of depression, and reduce inflammation throughout the body, among other benefits.

 

It’s good for your cardiovascular system.

A number of large-scale meta-analyses have found that regular chocolate consumption can help keep the cardiovascular system healthy by lowering blood pressure, improving the health of blood vessels, increasing “good” cholesterol and lowering “bad” cholesterol, and reducing the risk of diabetes. That’s thanks to the flavonoids found in cocoa, which are potent polyphenols.

It’s a great source of anandamide.

You may be familiar with anandamide by another name: “the bliss molecule” that has been found to produce the famous “runner’s high” and can help skyrocket productivity. Chocolate contains this substance, which helps explain why you’re likely to experience a temporary spike in happiness after eating it. Many biohackers utilize chocolate as a natural and immediate mood booster.

It may improve cognitive performance.

Recent research has discovered that chocolate consumption is correlated to improvements in cognitive performance in a number of ways, from enhancing abstract reasoning and working memory, to enabling concentration, to boosting your brain’s capacity to organize visual-spatial organization, to increasing blood flow to the brain. (This is most likely a result of the flavanols found in chocolate.) Chocolate may even help stave off the cognitive decline associated with the typical aging process.

When you look at these benefits, it’s no surprise that chocolate is a darling of the biohacking movement. The dark stuff provides a range of physiological, mental, and emotional benefits—all in an oh-so-delicious package.