Ahh, the soothing bliss of chocolate! Do you crave that milky brown sweetness, that molten cocoa, sugar and milk mixture melting in your mouth? Do you satiate that craving, only to feel utterly betrayed and guilty for having participated in consuming something so sinfully delicious? Dark chocolate is here for you! This rich treat is an excellent substitute for milk chocolate, the high-in-sugar chocolate most people consume! Dark chocolate, however, is full of nutrients and can prove positive for your health. It is one of the best sources that contain antioxidants in the world, coming from the seed of the cocoa tree, often with higher cocoa content than other chocolates made with other ingredients. In fact, the antioxidants in cocoa can help you fight against heart disease, some cancers, and even diabetes. If you’re going to make the switch to dark chocolate, look for 70% cocoa and above!
Here are our top 10 health benefits of dark chocolate.
- Rich in nutrients – Chocolate with a high content of cocoa is loaded with nutrients, including a soluble fiber while also rich in iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and potassium. Dark chocolate also contains a slight amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats – good fats – which are shown to reduce cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Improve blood flow – Antioxidants in dark chocolate stimulate the lining of the arteries creating a gas, which sends a signal to the arteries causing them to relax, enabling blood to flow easier. Having the blood flowing smoothly, it gets to all the body parts delivering the nutrients and oxygen with no complications.
- Lowers blood pressure – Those same antioxidants that help improve the blood flow are the ones that also decrease its resistance, and consequently eases the blood pressure in small amounts against the arteries. Even though it releases the pressure just a little bit, in time that is a big benefit for your heart. High blood pressure is always linked to heart diseases, so lowering it little by little is a good way to eliminate risks.
- Cuts down risks for heart disease – Eating dark chocolate a few times a week should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and a lower risk of heart disease over the long term. There are studies that revealed that eating chocolate two or more times per week greatly lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect, so regular consumption of dark chocolate can, in fact, reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol – The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol. It lowers the chances of LDL to get oxidized. When LDL oxidizes, it has reacted to free radicals, which makes the particle reactive and capable of damaging other tissues.
- Promotes weight loss – Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than its lighter-colored sibling because it reduces cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So if indulging in a bit of healthy dark chocolate should not only make it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but it should make it easier for you to stick to your diet in general.
- Prevent diabetes – Dark chocolate reduces insulin resistance. In a small Italian study, participants who ate a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. The flavonoids, which are the antioxidants in dark chocolate, create a gas called nitric oxide that helps control insulin sensitivity.
- Helps brain function – Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease. Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term.
- Protects against the sun –The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. If you are out in the sun, dark chocolate can reduce or prevent your chances of getting sunburned. Also if you were to get sunburned, eating dark chocolate can help your skin heal quicker.
- Reduces stress –If you are one of those chocolate lovers, you know that feeling of happiness and guilt when you put in your mouth that piece of flavorful candy. Now imagine that same feeling but without the guilt! You can achieve that with dark chocolate because now you know that it is better for your health and has much more benefits than regular or milk chocolate. There have been studies were people that ate dark chocolate showed a decreased amount of stress hormone levels.