Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients that can positively impact your health. Made from the seeds of the cocoa tree, it is one of the most acceptable sources of antioxidants you can find. Research shows that dark chocolate can improve your health and reduce your risk of heart disease. The Health benefits of dark chocolate or cocoa are here.
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Then it is fairly nutritious. It includes a decent quantity of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. A 100-gram dark chocolate bar with 70-85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% daily value of iron
- 58% CH for magnesium
- 89% DV for copper
- 98% DV for manganese
In addition, it includes a lot of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is quite a large amount and you shouldn’t consume it on a daily basis. These nutrients also include 600 calories and a moderate amount of sugar.
For this reason, dark chocolate is acceptable to consume in moderation. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also acceptable. Fats include primarily oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
Stearic acid has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels in the body. Palmitic acid can raise cholesterol levels, but it only makes up one-third of total fat calories.
Dark chocolate also holds stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. But it’s unlikely to keep you awake at night as the quantity of caffeine is very low compared to coffee.
Powerful Source of Antioxidants
ORAC means the ability to absorb oxygen radicals. It is a measurement of the antioxidant activity of foods.
Essentially, researchers are comparing a set of (bad) free radicals to a sample of the food and looking at how well the food’s antioxidants can neutralize the free radicals.
The biological significance of ORAC values has been questioned because they are measured in vitro and may not have the same effect on the body. However, it’s worth noting that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest performing foods that have been tested.
Dark chocolate is filled with organic compounds that are biologically active and work as antioxidants. These include, among others, polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins.
One study found that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruit tested, including blueberries and acai berries.
Can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can facilitate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO). One of the functions of NO is to signal the arteries to relax. Which reduces resistance to blood flow and therefore lowers blood pressure.
Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can enhance blood flow and lower blood pressure, although the impact is usually mild.
However, one study in people with high blood pressure showed no effect. So take that with a grain of salt. Given the large differences between studies on this issue. It is clear that more research is needed.
Increases HDL levels and protects LDL from oxidation
Dark chocolate consumption may improve several important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
In a study, cocoa powder was found to significantly reduce levels of oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in people with high cholesterol.
Oxidized LDL means that LDL cholesterol has responded with free radicals. This makes the LDL particles themselves reactive and capable of damaging other tissues. Such as the lining of the arteries in the heart.
It is logical that cocoa reduces the level of oxidized LDL. It contains a variety of powerful antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins from oxidative damage.
The flavanols in dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance. Which is another familiar risk factor for diseases like heart disease and diabetes. However, dark chocolate also includes sugar. Which can have opposing effects.
Rescue your skin from the sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be good for your skin. Flavonols protect from sun rays. Improve blood flow to the skin. Increase its density and hydration.
The minimum erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UV light required to cause skin redness 24 hours after exposure. In one study in 30 people, MED more than doubled after eating high-flavanol dark chocolate for 12 weeks.
If you’re planning a beach holiday. Consider enjoying dark chocolate in the previous weeks and months. But check with your doctor or dermatologist before ditching your usual skincare routine in favor of dark chocolate.
May Improve Brain Function
The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate can also improve your brain function. One study of healthy volunteers found that eating cocoa high in flavonols for 5 days improved blood flow to the brain.
Cocoa can also significantly improve cognitive performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. It may improve fluency and several disease risk factors.
In addition, cocoa contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine. This may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.
There is strong evidence that cocoa can provide tremendous health benefits. Especially protecting against heart disease. Of course, this does not mean that you should give it your all and eat a lot of chocolate every day. It is still high in calories and easily overeats.
Maybe eat a square or two after dinner and try to enjoy them. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories found in chocolate. Consider making hot cocoa without cream or sugar.
Also, note that most of the chocolate on the market is not nutritious. Choose quality products: dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more. Dark chocolate usually contains some sugar. But the amount is usually low, and the darker the chocolate.
Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste amazing while providing essential health benefits. You can buy dark chocolate from local stores or online.