Dark chocolate is high in nutrients that can help your health.
It’s one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find and is made from the cacao tree’s seed.
According to research, dark chocolate can enhance your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Here are 7 dark chocolate or cocoa health advantages that are backed by research.
It is quite nutritious if you purchase high quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.
It contains a lot of soluble fibre and is high in minerals.
A 100-gram bar of 70-85% cocoa dark chocolate contains:
- 11 grammes of fibre
- 66% of the DV for iron
- 57% of the DV for magnesium
- 196% of the DV for copper and 85% of the DV for manganese
- In addition, it contains a lot of selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.
Naturally, 100 grammes (3.5 ounces) is a sizeable amount that shouldn’t be consumed frequently. These nutrients are also high in calories and sugar.
Dark chocolate should therefore only be used occasionally.
Excellent fatty acid profiles can be found in cocoa and dark chocolate. Oleic acid, a heart-healthy fat found in olive oil, stearic acid, and palmitic acid make up the majority of the fats.
There is no impact of stearic acid on blood cholesterol. Although it can increase cholesterol levels, palmitic acid only makes up one-third of all calories from fat.
Dark chocolate contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but due to the low caffeine content compared to coffee, it is unlikely to keep you up at night.
2. Antioxidant-rich food
The acronym ORAC refers to oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It is a measure of a food’s antioxidant activity.
In essence, scientists test a sample of a food against a group of harmful free radicals to see how well the antioxidants in the food can neutralise the free radicals.
According to these studies, chocolate contains a lot of antioxidants. However, because ORAC values are measured in a test tube, they may not have the same effect in the body.
Human studies have not always revealed the same range of antioxidant effects for chocolate. However, experts say there isn’t enough evidence to be sure.
An collection of biologically active organic compounds that serve as antioxidants can be found in dark chocolate. Some examples include polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. When combined with other foods like almonds and cocoa, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help reduce some types of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, according to research.
According to one study, blueberries and acai berries weren’t the only fruits tested; dark chocolate and cocoa also had higher levels of polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits.
3. There may be an improvement in blood pressure and flow
Dark chocolate contains flavanoids that can encourage the production of nitric oxide by the endothelium, the lining of arteries (NO).
One of NO’s functions is to signal the arteries to relax, lowering the blood flow resistance and lowering blood pressure as a result.
Although the effects are typically modest, numerous controlled studies have demonstrated that cocoa and dark chocolate can enhance blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Take this with a grain of salt, however, because one study in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure found no effect. People who are already being treated for high blood pressure may not see any additional benefit from including cocoa flavanols in their diet.
Given the wide range of studies on this topic, it is clear that more research is required.
4. Increases HDL while protecting LDL from oxidation
Dark chocolate consumption can lower several significant heart disease risk factors. It may help prevent high cholesterol.
In a small study, it was discovered that eating dark chocolate with the flavanol lycopene added helped lower levels of triglycerides, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
Some LDL cholesterol variants have a higher propensity to oxidise, which occurs when they come into contact with free radicals in your body. Oxidation makes the LDL particle reactive and capable of causing damage to other tissues, such as the lining of your heart’s arteries.
It stands to reason that cocoa reduces oxidation-prone forms of LDL. It is packed with potent antioxidants that can enter the bloodstream and shield lipoproteins from oxidative damage.
Dark chocolate’s flavanols can also lessen insulin resistance, which is a well-known risk factor for illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Dark chocolate does, however, also contain sugar, which may have the reverse effect.
5. Reduces the risk of heart disease
The components in dark chocolate seem to be very effective at preventing LDL oxidation.
Long-term, less cholesterol should build up in the arteries as a result, reducing the risk of heart disease.
In fact, studies show a significant improvement.
Consuming chocolate or cocoa that is high in flavanols has been shown in numerous studies to lower blood pressure and enhance cardiovascular health over time.
A study found that eating chocolate three times per week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9%. Eating chocolate more frequently provided no additional benefit.
According to a 2017 clinical trial, people who ate almonds with or without dark chocolate had lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Even though all of these results are encouraging, more research is necessary to determine whether the risk was decreased by the chocolate.
However, given that the biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and LDL that is more susceptible to oxidation) is well understood, it is conceivable that regularly consuming dark chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease.
6. May provide sun protection for your skin
The bioactive ingredients in dark chocolate might also be good for your skin.
Flavanols can protect the skin from sun damage, increase blood flow to the skin, and improve skin density and hydration.
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the amount of UVB rays needed to cause skin redness 24 hours after exposure.
After 12 weeks of consuming high-flavanol dark chocolate or cocoa, studies have shown that MED can rise and even double. This enhances the sun protection of your skin.
In the weeks and months before your beach vacation, you might want to increase your consumption of dark chocolate. Consult a dermatologist or physician before giving up your regular skin care regimen in favour of more dark chocolate. Additionally, bear in mind that chocolate cannot substitute for sun protection measures like sunscreen.
7. Could boost brain function
The good news doesn’t stop there. Additionally, dark chocolate may help your brain work better.
According to studies, young adults who consume high flavanol chocolate have better blood flow to their brains. This may help to explain why drinking cocoa regularly seems to enhance verbal learning, memory, and attention.
Additionally, cocoa flavanoids may help older adults with mild cognitive impairment maintain cognitive function and lessen the likelihood that dementia will develop. However, more research is required.
Additionally, cocoa contains stimulants like theobromine and caffeine, which may be a major factor in why it can enhance brain function temporarily.
There is strong evidence that cocoa can offer important health advantages, especially protection from heart disease.
Naturally, this does not mean you should eat a lot of chocolate every day. The calories are still high, and it’s simple to overeat.
Have one or two squares after dinner and make an effort to enjoy them. If you want the health benefits of cocoa without the calories of chocolate, think about making a hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.
Also keep in mind that a lot of the chocolate available is not healthy.
Ensure that the dark chocolate you choose has a cocoa content of at least 70%. This information on where to buy the best dark chocolate may be of interest to you.
Although sugar is typically present in dark chocolates in small amounts, the amount of sugar decreases with increasing chocolate darkness.
Chocolate is a remarkable food that tastes great and has numerous health benefits.