7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients which could positively affect your health. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the greatest sources of antioxidants on Earth.  Studies indicate that dark chocolate (maybe not the sugary crap) can improve your health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

1. Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it’s in fact quite nutritious.  It comprises a nice amount of soluble fiber and is packed with minerals. A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 g of fiber
  • 67 percent of the RDI for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for calcium
  • 89 percent of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium

Needless to say, 100 g (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount rather than something that you should be consuming every day. These nutrients also come with 600 calories and medium amounts of sugar.  The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate can also be excellent. The fats are mostly polyunsaturated and saturated fat, with little amounts of polyunsaturated fat.  It also includes stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. however, it’s not likely to keep you awake through the night as the amount of caffeine is very modest in comparison to coffee.

SUMMARY
Quality dark chocolate is full of fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and a few other minerals.

2. Powerful Source of Antioxidants

Fundamentally, researchers place a lot of free radicals (bad) against a sample of their food and see how nicely the antioxidants in the food can”disarm” the toxins.  The biological significance of ORAC values is questioned because it is measured in a test tube and might not have the exact same effect in the body.  But it’s worth mentioning that uncooked, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been analyzed.  Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and serve as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins, amongst others.  One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant action, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which contained blueberries and acai berries

SUMMARY
Cocoa and dark chocolate have a huge array of powerful antioxidants. In fact, they have way more than most other foods.

3. May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate may trigger the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to create nitric oxide (NO).  One of the functions of NO would be to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and so reduces blood pressure.  Many controlled studies reveal that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood circulation and lower blood pressure, though the effects are often mild.  However, one study in people with high blood pressure revealed no impact, so take this with a grain of salt.

SUMMARY
The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood circulation in the arteries and lead to a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

4. Consuming dark chocolate can improve several significant risk factors for heart disease

In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and reduced total LDL for people with higher cholesterol.  This makes the LDL particle itself more reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, like the lining of the blood vessels in your heart.  It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It includes plenty of powerful antioxidants that do make it in the bloodstream and safeguard lipoproteins against oxidative damage.  Dark chocolate can also decrease insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many ailments like heart disease and diabetes.

SUMMARY
Dark chocolate enhances several significant risk factors for disease. It enriches the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage when increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

5. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

The compounds in dark chocolate seem to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the blood vessels, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.   In reality, many long-term observational studies reveal fairly drastic improvement.  In a study of 470 older men, cocoa was found to decrease the probability of death from heart disease by a whopping 50 percent more than a 15 year interval.  Another study revealed that drinking chocolate two or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque from the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate frequently had no effect.  Yet another study showed that eating dark chocolate than 5 times a week lowered the risk of heart disease by 57 percent.  Obviously, those three studies are observational research, so that I can’t prove that it was the chocolate that reduced the threat.  But since the biological process is known (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL), it’s plausible that frequently eating dark chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease.

SUMMARY
Observational studies show a drastic reduction in cardiovascular disease risk among those who consume the most chocolate.

6. May Protect Your Skin From the Sun

The bioactive compounds in chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavonols can shield against sunlight damage, improve blood circulation to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.  The minimum erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum quantity of UVB rays required to cause redness in skin 24 hours after exposure.  In 1 study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after swallowing dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.  If you’re planning a beach vacation, think about loading up on dark chocolate at the previous weeks and months.

SUMMARY
Studies indicate that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage.

7. Could Boost Brain Function

The good news is not over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your mind. One study of healthy volunteers showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five times improved blood circulation to the brain.  Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in older people with psychological impairment. It may enhance verbal fluency and several risk factors for illness, as well.  Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason it can improve brain functioning in the brief term.

SUMMARY
Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by boosting blood flow. It also includes stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine.

The Most Important Thing

There’s considerable evidence that cocoa can offer powerful health benefits, being particularly protective against cardiovascular disease.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should go all out and eat lots of chocolate daily. It’s still loaded with calories and simple to overeat. Perhaps have a square or two after dinner and try to actually savor them. If you’d like the advantages of cocoa with no calories in chocolate, then look at making hot cocoa with no cream or sugar.

Moreover, take note that a lot of chocolate in the marketplace isn’t healthy.  Choose quality materials — dark chocolate with 70 percent or higher cocoa content. You might want to check out this guide on the best way best to find the very best dark chocolate. Dark chocolates typically include some sugar, but the amounts are often small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.  Chocolate is one of those very few foods that taste awesome while providing significant health benefits, SO ENJOY!

Jennifer Knox
SpecialTea Occasions

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