Giving Light to the Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate
If you have a sweet tooth like me, chances are, chocolate is a regular in your dessert menu. Can’t blame you though! Chocolates are one the easiest and fastest cravings you can lay your hand to. Plus, they are widely available in the commercial market, with various kinds and combinations to choose from.
Well, aside from satisfying your sweet cravings, eating chocolate, dark chocolate in particular, has scientifically-proven health benefits. You’ll less likely feel the guilt of stuffing your mouth another bar upon learning them!
Rich in flavanols
Aside from eating Omega-3 rich foods like salmon, eating dark chocolate also contributes for a good heart health. We all know that chocolate is made from cocoa beans. The beans are harvested, fermented, and then eventually roasted to create cocoa solids. These cocoa solids are rich in antioxidants called flavanols, which are essential for the production of nitric oxide, which in return relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow, overall contributing to the healthy functioning of the heart.
According to Devon Peart, a dietitian, “Improved blood flow means protection from heart disease. It’s also good for cognition [understanding thought], because you’re having more blood flow to the brain.” What makes dark chocolate stand out from its other sweeter variants is that it has 50–90% amount of cocoa solids — that’s 2–3 times more flavonol content compared to milk chocolate, which only has around 10–50%.
Keeps your skin healthy and protected
Aside from its heart benefits, flavanols founds in dark chocolate also protects your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, as well as improves blood flow to your skin, and increases skin density and hydration.
For instance, if you have a planned beach trip coming on your way, consume dark chocolate months or weeks before the actual date of your trip. But be sure to still bring your sunscreen with you!
Improves brain function
Flavonols found in dark chocolate truly do wonders in our body. Studies have shown that flavonols also improve the blood flow in the brain, leading to improved memory, attention, and verbal learning. According to Everyday Health, eating dark chocolate increases your brain’s ability to produce new synaptic connections. This is called neuroplasticity.
Moreover, an article published by Healthline states that, “Cocoa flavanoids may also help maintain cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and reduce the chance of progressing to dementia. But more research is needed” “Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.”
Truly enough, if you’re feeling a bit stressed or worn out, just grab some sweets or your favorite dessert and you’ll instantly be in a lighter mood. After all, stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence?
The chemicals found in dark chocolate stimulates areas in your brain that are associated with reward and pleasure. This leads to a decrease in your body’s stress levels and improvise your overall mood.
“Polyphenols are antioxidants that lower cortisol, a stress hormone. So there are mood-enhancing benefits to eating dark chocolate,” added by Peart. So if you’re feeling a bit irritated or stressed lately, go grab yourself a bund of dark chocolate!
Dark chocolate is the perfect option for those people who have allergies to milk products or are maintaining a dairy-free diet. Dark chocolate is considered dairy free, unlike its milk chocolate counterpart which contain milk solids.
Loaded with minerals
Aside from flavonoids, dark chocolate is also rich in minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus. These minerals are one of the building blocks of a healthy body. For instance zinc is crucial to boost immunity, healthy teeth and bone formation is what phosphorus does, and you can thank magnesium for your good night’s sleep.
Lowers bad cholesterol
Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols and catechins. These antioxidants contribute in lowering bad cholesterol levels, especially when eaten with other foods like almond.
Consequently, it aids in the production of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as the ‘good cholesterol.’ It can regarded to dark chocolate’s oleic acid content, a type of monosaturated fat which is also commonly found in olive oil.
Lowers the risk of heart stroke
According to a study published by European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, their meta-analysis have found out that the 8% lower risk for block arteries can be attributed to eating dark chocolate at least once a week.
Moreover, a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating dark chocolate also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to pathogens and germs that enter our body. However, excessive inflammation can bring damages to cells and tissues and may trigger other diseases like type2 diabetes and arthritis.
Good thing though, studies have found that dark chocolate contains antioxidants that promotes anti-inflammatory activity.
More than just a dessert
More than just a dessert, eating dark chocolate has significant effects in our body so don’t feel guilty to grab that bar! Typically, the amount of dark chocolate an adult can consumer per day is about 1 to 2 ounces or 30–60g.
And since we all know that everything should be consumed in moderation. Eating dark chocolate beyond the prescribed amount will in return give you a hefty amount of calories and saturated fat. So, remember, indulge in moderation!
“There are some benefits to dark chocolate in terms of antioxidants, like the flavanols. But they’re not compelling enough that we would say you should definitely include this in your diet. Pound for pound, it’s a high-calorie food. It’s definitely something to enjoy in moderation,” Peart advises.
So, the next time you are feeling stressed, lonely, or tired, care to grab a bar of dark chocolate?