Chocolate is one of the most popular and well-loved types of food all over the world. But not all chocolates are equal. Among all of them, the healthiest variety happens to be dark chocolate. This is a type of chocolate that’s made from cocoa just like other chocolates. But it’s usually from raw cacao which is why it has a darker color and a more subtle flavor. Dark chocolate isn’t as processed as milk or white chocolate which is why it has a lot more health benefits too. In this article, we’ll go through these health benefits. By the end of it, you might start reaching for a bar of dark and healthy goodness!
Rich in Anti-Oxidants
Dark chocolates contain polyphenol, flavonol, and other types of antioxidants. In fact, cocoa, which is the main ingredient of dark chocolate contains more flavanol than other super fruits such as cranberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and acai. Also, the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate is significantly higher than all of these fruits aside from pomegranate. This comes as a surprise to many, especially those who love eating fruits. We all know how beneficial antioxidants are to the body. This is one of the leading benefits dark chocolate boasts. For many, this is enough to keep on enjoying the subtly sweet treat over and over again.
Protects the Body from Free Radicals
Consuming dark chocolate can help protect the body from harmful free radicals which can cause adverse effects on the body. Free radicals are compounds that come from the environment and processed foods. This is a massive benefit because these days, we are always exposed to free radicals. If too many of these compounds get into the body, they can affect the cellular processes. Fortunately, the antioxidants in chocolates can help neutralize these free radicals before they can even do any damage to the body.
Beneficial to the Skin
The dark variety of chocolate also contains some bioactive compounds. These are very beneficial as well, especially for the skin. It helps in maintaining the skin texture, giving it a radiant look. These compounds can help protect the skin against sun damage. They can also help improve blood flow to increase the skin’s hydration and density.
Improves Heart Health
According to studies, the flavanols present in dark chocolate improve heart health by maintaining the blood flow to the brain and heart. Also, the flavanols can reduce the stickiness of blood platelets which can reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots. Studies have shown that adults consuming dark chocolate have healthy hearts. So it’s better to go for the dark variety than milk or white chocolate which doesn’t contain healthy ingredients.
Rich in Nutrients
Dark chocolate contains a lot of nutrients aside from antioxidants. When it comes to gauging the nutritional value of foods, it’s better to see their nutrient densities. This refers to the number of nutrients a portion of food has concerning the energy it provides. For instance, eggs are rich in nutrients but don’t contain any sugar for energy. When you look at it this way, dark chocolate is a highly nutrient-dense food. In fact, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense types of food available.
Helps in Maintaining Cholesterol Levels
Dark chocolate contains different compounds and plant nutrients. However, the polyphenols present in chocolate are good for a person’s cholesterol profile. According to studies, this may be the one involved in the regulation of cholesterol levels. Consuming dark chocolate which contains a lot of polyphenols can increase the levels of HDL which is also known as the “good cholesterol.” Also, it can help reduce the levels of LDL or the “bad cholesterol.”
Works like a Stress Buster
The dark version of chocolates can also serve as a mood booster. This is probably why a lot of people love eating chocolates in general. Just eating the sweet treat makes people feel better and happier too. Dark chocolate also contains a compound known as theobromine. This compound impacts the nervous system in the same way as caffeine does. It helps you feel content, and relaxed, by improving your energy levels, focus, and alertness. Dark chocolate also interacts with your neurotransmitters. When this happens, it increases the levels of serotonin and produces the endorphins which make you feel good. Research shows that dark chocolate may be beneficial for patients who suffer from mental health issues or depression.
Improved Cognitive Functions
This chocolate variety is excellent brain food; it can help boost a person’s memory and ability to focus. According to research, consuming dark chocolate which is rich in flavanol is frequently associated with enhanced blood flow to the brain. Therefore, it may be highly beneficial for those suffering from conditions caused by reduced blood flow to the brain such as stroke, dementia, and more. Results have shown that this component can enhance cognitive abilities, especially in the elderly. Those who consume more dark chocolate and other flavonoid-rich foods can improve their cognitive performance.
Prevents Asthma Attacks
Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it may prevent the occurrence of asthma attacks. This is because of the theophylline, theobromine, and caffeine content of the chocolate. They all work together to open the constricted bronchial passages and stop bronchospasms. These beneficial ingredients also enable the delicious treat to serve as an effective cough suppressant.
Regulates Level of Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure
According to research, dark chocolate is very effective in lowering blood pressure, especially in people with diabetes with hypertension. Also, it can decrease the fasting blood sugar levels in these people too. For people with diabetes, dark chocolate is recommended more than other types of chocolate. It’s even better when the chocolate has a higher content of cocoa with lower sugar content. However, just like with other foods, it’s wise to eat dark chocolate in moderation.