We all love chocolate. We relish in its velvety feel against our tongues.
And the warm feeling of comfort it brings. And oh, not to forget its divine taste – almost worth dying for.
But with all the latest health trends and fads going on now, it’s tempting to demonize chocolates.
What if we can eat chocolates regularly, without posing no harm to our health?
Turns out that there are so many dark chocolate benefits with numerous advantages to health.
Before we even discuss some of these benefits, let first of all look at how dark chocolate is different for the others.
What is the difference between dark chocolate and white chocolate?
If you’re wondering what makes dark chocolate any different from milk or white chocolate, here’s something to consider:
High cocoa concentration
Dark chocolate generally has a higher percentage of cocoa concentration compared to milk chocolate. And it can contain from 30 to 80 percent of cocoa solids.
Milk solids are not added to dark chocolate. Due to this, dark chocolate has a fuller and richer chocolate taste.
Also, the texture is comparatively quite different. Dark chocolate has a more dry and chalky feel to it due to the high amount of cocoa solids it contains.
Little to no milk fat
Dark chocolate contains little to no milk fat. This makes it healthier because of the high cocoa content since cocoa is the natural primary ingredient.
Higher shelf life
Dark chocolate also has a higher shelf life than milk chocolate and the like.
This just means it will take a longer time for dark chocolate to expire than it would milk chocolate.
This is simply because dark chocolate has less dairy content. Moreover, dark chocolate has little to no water activity.
Therefore, it provides very little opportunities for bacteria growth.
What are the benefits of eating dark chocolate?
If you are not already hooked by the above-mentioned facts then you soon will be.
Below are 11 out of the many benefits one can receive from increasing their dark chocolate intake.
1. Is loaded with antioxidants
Researchers have come up with a way to measure the antioxidant activity of food. A key part of this measurement is called the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)
This is a measurement to find the food with the highest amount of antioxidants. Raw and unprocessed cocoa beans topped all the foods tested.
How? One of the many dark chocolate benefits is that it’s loaded with tons of biologically active organic compounds.
These compounds act as antioxidants. Dark chocolate is filled with a wide range of antioxidants and has even more than some foods.
2. Can improve blood flow
Here’s the problem: high blood pressure is one of the most common problems in America today.
The good news is that flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the lining of the arteries known as the endothelium.
The stimulated endothelium then produces nitric oxide(NO).
NO has many functions, one of which is to send signals to the arteries causing it to relax. This helps to reduce blood pressure.
3. Could lower risk of heart disease
Compounds present in dark chocolate help to protect against the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Let me explain.
LDL is one of the major groups of the protein. It transports all fat molecules around the body in the extracellular water.
This, in turn, helps to lower amounts of cholesterol to clog the arteries and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Some studies have shown that eating dark chocolate more than five times per week can reduce the risk of heart disease by 57 percent.
4. Is rich in minerals
Of all the many dark chocolate benefits, this is perhaps my favorite.
Dark chocolate contains minerals such as magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese among others.
It also contains fiber. All of which are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine which are less likely to keep you awake and jittery at night.
This is because the caffeine content is relatively smaller as compared to actual coffee.
5. Can improve type 2 diabetes symptoms
If you associate chocolate consumption with an increase in blood sugar and high cholesterol, it might be time to rethink.
Dark chocolate may do just the opposite.
Studies show that flavanols in cocoa can slow carbohydrate digestion and absorption. This improves insulin secretion and reduces inflammation.
6. Aids in controlling weight
Cocoa intake helps with weight control- even if it is in the form of dark chocolate. What a paradox! It turns out that cocoa intake helps regulate energy use.
It also reduces appetite and inflammation, while increasing the oxidation of fat.
All of this arouses feelings of satisfaction or fullness. And this in turn can help prevent overindulging in comfort food.
One study showed that people who consumed dark chocolate frequently are more likely to have lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did not.
7. Possesses cancer-protective characteristics
Remember flavanols? Well, they have low toxicity, and also possess cancer-preventing properties.
Cocoa has the highest flavonol concentration. Studies have shown that cocoa components have antioxidant effects.
These effects help to protect cells from reactive and harmful molecules. They also fight inflammation and induce the death of cancer cells.
8. May improve brain functioning
Dark chocolate actually could improve your brain’s functionality. The high flavanol content in the cocoa significantly improves the brain’s blood flow.
It may also improve verbal fluency and cognitive function especially in the elderly.
9. Improves mood and depression symptoms
Well, it is no surprise that chocolate is comfort food. And who would have thought that it does scientifically improve one’s mood?
The improvement in mood might also be related to the caffeine content. Or simply the mere pleasure our senses receive when consuming chocolate.
Whatever the reason may be, it is safe to say that dark chocolate is somewhat therapeutic.
10. Protects skin against the sun
Bioactive compounds present in dark chocolate can prevent your skin from getting sun damage.
It can also improve the skin’s blood flow and increase the skin’s density as well as hydration.
There is a minimum amount of UVB rays that cause irritation and redness to the skin after a day’s exposure.
This is known as a minimal erythemal dose (MED).
One study showed that the MED more than doubled after participants consumed dark chocolate for 12 weeks.
11. Can be a healthy snack
Be it as a healthy snack or as part of a treat, dark chocolate is a great tasting food item and is quite versatile.
I bet you are all for team dark chocolate now.
With a renewed mindset, indulge yourself with a bar of dark chocolate, satisfying and great for your well being. Just make sure you are not eating a lot of it late at night.