Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients that are beneficial to one’s health.
Made from cacao tree seeds, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants available.
According to studies, dark chocolate can improve health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Here are five scientifically supported health benefits of cocoa or dark chocolate.
- Highly nourishing
If you purchase high-quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, it is quite healthy.
It contains a substantial amount of soluble fiber and an abundance of minerals.
A 100-gram bar of 70% to 85% cocoa dark chocolate contains:
11 grams of protein
66% of the Daily Value for iron
57% of the Daily Value (DV) for magnesium
196% of the Daily Value for copper and 85% of the Daily Value for manganese
In addition, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are abundant.
Obviously, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a considerable amount and should not be consumed daily. In addition to containing 600 calories and a moderate amount of sugar, these nutrients are also nutritious.
Due to this, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation.
Also advantageous is the fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate. The majority of the fats are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is a heart-healthy fat that is also found in olive oil.
The stearic acid has no effect on the body’s cholesterol levels. Palmitic acid can increase cholesterol levels, but it accounts for only one-third of the total calories from fat.
In addition to caffeine and theobromine, dark chocolate contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, but the amount of caffeine is negligible compared to coffee.
- Source of powerful antioxidants
ORAC refers to the capacity to absorb oxygen radicals. It’s a measurement of foods’ antioxidant activity.
Essentially, researchers expose a sample of a food to a large number of free radicals (harmful) to determine how effectively the antioxidants in the food can neutralize the free radicals.
According to these studies, chocolate is rich in antioxidants. ORAC values are measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect on the body as they do in the test tube.
Human studies do not always demonstrate the same spectrum of antioxidant effects for chocolate. However, experts say there is insufficient evidence to make a determination.
Organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants are abundant in dark chocolate. These include, among others, polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. When combined with foods like almonds and cocoa, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help reduce certain forms of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, according to research.
A study revealed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than all other fruits examined, including blueberries and acai berries.
3. May increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure
Dark chocolate flavanoids can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of the arteries, to produce nitric oxide.
One of NO’s functions is to send signals to the arteries to relax, thereby reducing the resistance to blood flow and blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies demonstrate that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, albeit in a mild manner.
However, one study involving individuals with type 2 diabetes and hypertension found no effect, so take this information with a grain of salt. It is possible that adding cocoa flavanols to the diet of individuals who are already receiving treatment for high blood pressure will provide no additional benefit.
4. Increases HDL and prevents oxidation of LDL
consuming dark chocolate can improve several important cardiovascular disease risk factors. It may prevent high cholesterol levels.
In a small study, consuming dark chocolate containing the flavanol lycopene significantly decreased total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Some types of LDL cholesterol are more susceptible to oxidation, which occurs when they interact with free radicals in the body. Oxidation renders 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 LDL forms. It contains a high concentration of potent antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins from oxidative damage.
The flavanols in dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, a common risk factor for diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- May reduce the risk of heart disease
It appears that the compounds in dark chocolate are highly protective against LDL oxidation.
This should result in significantly less cholesterol accumulating in the arteries over time, lowering the risk of heart disease.
In fact, research indicates a significant improvement.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that flavanol-rich cocoa and chocolate can reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health over time.
A systematic review revealed that consuming chocolate three times per week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. Frequent chocolate consumption exhibited few additional benefits.
There is substantial evidence that cocoa provides numerous health benefits, including protection against cardiovascular disease.
Obviously, this does not mean you should consume excessive amounts of chocolate every day. It’s still calorically dense and easy to overeat.
Try to savor a square or two of chocolate after dinner. Consider making cocoa without cream or sugar if you desire the health benefits of cocoa without the calories of chocolate.
Note that a significant amount of chocolate on the market is not nutritious.
Choose quality: dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher. Check out this guide for information on where to find the best dark chocolate.
Typically, dark chocolates contain a small amount of sugar, and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.
Chocolate is a remarkable food that has a delicious flavor and provides numerous health benefits.