Chocolate is like paradise for your taste buds, your palate, your brain, and your emotions. There’s no wonder why the cocoa tree is called Theobroma Cacao, meaning “the food of the Gods”.
What if you knew that dark chocolate has many health benefits? You’d eat dark chocolate as your heart desires, for your health sake.
We’re not kidding. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Where Does Dark Chocolate Come From?
Chocolate is made from the fruits of the cocoa tree, called cocoa beans. The trees are native to Central and South America and are now grown in many countries with tropical climates.
The cocoa beans are dried, fermented, and roasted. Dark chocolate is considered to be when it has over 60% cocoa, without milk and less to no sugar.
As a fact, milk chocolate has only 5-7% cocoa. Milk decreases the power of antioxidants abundantly present in cocoa. So, not only that milk chocolate has no health benefits, but it’s even dangerous to your health in many ways, as the main ingredient is sugar.
True dark chocolate has only a few ingredients, containing cocoa mass, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar (or another sweetener). The higher the cocoa percentage, the fewer the ingredients and the fillers.
12 Surprising Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Dark Chocolate is Nutritious
A high-quality dark chocolate is quite nutritious, not only delicious. Your 100 grams of dark chocolate contain antioxidants, theobromine, caffeine, phenylethylamine, essential minerals (potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium), vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K), fat (palmitic, stearic acid, oleic acid), polyphenols - flavonoids (procyanidins, epicatechins).
Being packed with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, dark chocolate is recommended for anemia or if you have a poor diet and lack nutrients.
Theobromine is a mild stimulant and diuretic.
Phenylethylamine has a mild antidepressant and stimulatory action, just like dopamine and adrenaline are.
Even if dark chocolate is very nutritious, consume it with moderation as the average recommended dose of dark chocolate is 1 oz. per day and 7 oz. per week.
2. Dark Chocolate is Rich in Antioxidants
Raw cocoa beans are among the highest sources of antioxidants. Cocoa scores even higher than Acai berries and blueberries, as studies show.
3. Dark Chocolate is Good for The Heart
The high content in flavonoid showed to improve the vascular function and transport metabolites to cells.
Moreover, the regular consume of cocoa (in various forms) was linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular mortality and stroke, and reduce the high blood pressure.
Overall, dark chocolate and cocoa are very friendly with your heart, and even prevent cardiovascular diseases and improve cardiovascular health.
The heart does really benefit from dark chocolate.
4. Dark Chocolate Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Can you believe how good cocoa is? It significantly decreases the bad cholesterol, LDL and increases the good cholesterol, HDL.
In the same time, the powerful antioxidants (polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins) in cocoa reduce thrombotic tendency, inhibit LDL oxidation, and decrease insulin sensitivity.
5. Dark Chocolate has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The polyphenols have also anti-inflammatory properties. Clovamide, an amino acid in cocoa beans, inhibited cytokine release (proteins that trigger inflammation in the body). Thus, dark chocolate can be a promising candidate to prevent or treat inflammation.
6. Dark Chocolate Reduces the Risk for Diabetes
Raw cocoa influences the insulin resistance, reducing the risk of getting diabetes, thanks to the high antioxidant content.
7. Dark Chocolate Protects the Nerves
No more injuries and inflammation of your nerves, if you consume regularly a little bit of dark chocolate, research show. And what can you do, if doctors tell you that chocolate is good for you? You eat it, of course.
8. Dark Chocolate Helps Your Skin
The antioxidants in cocoa protect your skin from the oxidative damage of UV rays, so make sure you take a bite daily in your sun-filled exotic holidays. Of course, make sure you also wear sunscreen as well. One cannot replace the other.
Cocoa powder can also help your skin if you apply it as a topical mask on your face. The antioxidants make your skin soft, elastic, glowing and looking younger.
9. Dark Chocolate Increases Your Endurance
If you prepare for an intense workout, a long hike or climb, take some dark chocolate with you, as it proved to increase endurance, boost energy and strength, and help you recover quicker.
10. Dark Chocolate Makes Your Feel Satiated
If you want to lose weight or to maintain your waistline, know that dark chocolate makes you feel full and satiated. So, you won’t feel the urge to eat in between meal and you won’t crave for junk food.
11. Dark Chocolate Boosts Your Brain
Yes, you read well. Dark chocolate stimulates your cognitive functions, improves memory and performance, increases the cerebral blood circulation, and improves vision.
12. Dark Chocolate Uplifts Your Mood
These polyphenols in dark chocolate are really fantastic and doing a great job, as you can see. They can even improve your mood. In several trials, consumption of dark chocolate proved to significantly increase a state of calmness and contentment in subjects (who gladly drank dark chocolate with 500 mg polyphenols for 30 days).
Where can we sign up for a trial like that?
Common Sense - Apply Moderation
- Dark chocolate contains caffeine, so if you count your caffeine intake or want to sleep at night, don’t eat too much of it and definitely, not in the evening.
- Oxalates in dark chocolate may increase the risk of kidney stones, for people who are already susceptible to kidney problems. So, watch your intake of cocoa.
- Dark chocolate may trigger migraines, although some people who are prone to migraine didn’t have any problems when they ate it. So, it depends on your sensitivity. Eat with prudence.
- Dark chocolate still contains calories, eating large amounts WILL sabotage your healthy diet efforts.