“I hate chocolates!” said no one ever! Chocolate is a favourite food item and is associated with positive emotions. Dark chocolate is known to be rich in nutrients that are good for us. Derived from the cocoa tree seeds, dark chocolate is one of the best forms of natural antioxidants in nature. If one were to consume the organic form (i.e., not the regular ‘sugary sweet’ chocolates available in the local markets) of dark chocolate, it could help bring down the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Need more convincing? Read below to know the proven health benefits of dark chocolates:
1. It is Nutritious
A bar of high-quality dark chocolate will have a very high content of cocoa. It will also contain good amounts of soluble fibre and other minerals. E.g., if one buys a bar of 100 gm dark chocolate, it will have:
- Fibre: 11 gm
- Iron: 67%
- Magnesium: 58%
- Copper: 89%
- Manganese: 98%
In addition to these, it also contains zinc, selenium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, it should be eaten in moderation.
2. Good Fats and Fatty Acids
Cocoa in dark chocolate contains the right amount of fatty acids that are beneficial to us. It mostly contains saturated and mono-unsaturated fats with a tiny amount of polyunsaturated fat. Dark chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, which are stimulants. However, they are not strong enough to cause insomnia.
3. It is a Powerful Antioxidant
Dark chocolate contains organic compounds that act as antioxidants such as flavanols, catechins, polyphenols, etc. which are biologically active.
4. It Improves Blood Flow & Lowers Blood Pressure
The flavonols contained in the dark chocolate help to stimulate the endothelium which is the lining of the arteries and help produce Nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is responsible for sending signals to arteries to get them to relax. This lowers the resistance of blood flow, reducing the pressure, and helps to control blood pressure.
5. Improves HDL & De-oxidizes LDL
Eating dark chocolate can help lower the risk of heart diseases. As per research, it was found that cocoa powder can decrease the oxidation of LDL (LDL or bad cholesterol reacts with free radicals) cholesterol in men. It also helps boost HDL and decrease overall LDL in patients with high cholesterol. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and protect the lipoproteins against oxidation.
Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it helps in reducing insulin resistance.
6. Protection Against Sun
As we already know, cocoa helps lower blood pressure and even aids in reducing stress. Dark chocolate contains bioactive compounds which are great for the skin. The flavanols improve the flow of blood to the skin and act as a sun protection layer on the skin. It also helps in increasing hydration and skin density.
Other benefits of dark chocolates are:
- It boosts brain function
- It reduces stress
However, the bottom line is that it should be consumed in moderation. Also, the dark chocolates that are readily available in the market are not always right. Look for the ones that contain 70% or more cocoa content.
Also Read: 4 Health Benefits of Green Tea
7. Could Improve Brain Function
One study that was conducted with a healthy volunteer showed that consuming high flavanol cocoa for 5 days helped improve blood flow in the brain. Older adults with mild cognitive impairment may receive benefits from consuming cocoa daily as it may improve cognitive function. Additionally, cocoa also contains several stimulants, the chief being caffeine, which contributes to the fact that cocoa helps improve brain function in the short term.
8. Could Lower Stress Levels
Researchers have proven that eating an average-sized dark chocolate bar every day for two consecutive weeks may reduce the levels of the hormone cortisol in the body, as well as the catecholamines, found in highly stressed people. Dark chocolate is also known to improve the metabolism and microbial activity of the gut of people who consume dark chocolate regularly.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.