What are the benefits of dark chocolate? This guide will show you how your favorite treat may be surprisingly healthy.
When considering the benefits of eating healthy, few people will think of chocolate as a source of nutrition.
However, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and minerals. The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa, which, in addition to antioxidants, contains minerals such as fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Chocolate becomes unhealthy the less “dark” it is due to the addition of milk, sugar, and butter, which damage your health and weaken the benefits of cocoa.
Remember: in order for dark chocolate to be beneficial, it must be at least 70% cocoa.
Health benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is much more that a treat, since it can offer several potential health benefits due to its higher cocoa content compared to milk chocolate. Cocoa, and consequently dark chocolate, contains powerful antioxidants such as flavonoids.
Here are some of the benefits associated with dark chocolate:
Rich in Antioxidants
Dark chocolate has a lot of antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. For example, these flavonoids are also thought to protect your skin from sun damage, and increase the skin’s hydration and elasticity. Flavonoids can lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol by decreasing oxidation, which helps prevent plaque accumulation in the arteries. These antioxidants have been linked to several other health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Several studies show that regular consumption of dark chocolate improves heart health. Due to the organic compounds contained in cocoa, dark chocolate can improve improve blood flow by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels, reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and improving blood vessel function. It therefore lowers blood pressure too. This is why dark chocolate has been associated with a lower risk of stroke, due to its positive effects on blood pressure and blood vessel health.
Improved Brain Function
The flavonoids in dark chocolate may have a positive impact on brain function and cognitive health. They may enhance memory and protect against age-related cognitive decline. On that same note, dark chocolate can also improve your mood. In many studies, dark chocolate has been associated with elevated serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.
As we said, dark chocolate contains compounds that can trigger the release of endorphins and serotonin in the brain, which are natural mood enhancers. This is also why we always feel a bit happier when we eat dark chocolate.
Fight Stress and Anxiety
Eating dark chocolate can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. For this reason, some studies on the benefits of dark chocolate have shown that it can be used to fight stress and anxiety.
Some research suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate’s antioxidants may help reduce inflammation in the body, which is associated with various chronic diseases.
Dark chocolate is often more satisfying than milk chocolate due to its intense flavor, which can help curb your appetite and potentially prevent overeating.
Blood Sugar Control
Some studies have indicated that dark chocolate may improve insulin sensitivity, which could be beneficial for those at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although dark chocolate is much more healthy than milk chocolate, it should still be consumed in moderation due to its calorie count and necessary addition of sugar to contrast its bitter taste.
Dark chocolate lovers around the world can relax knowing their favorite treat is not only delicious, but surprisingly nutritious as well.
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