Discover the 8 shocking health benefits of dark chocolate.
If you are like me, you love to eat chocolate.
But not just any chocolate, like the varieties that are often referred to as “superfoods.”
I’m talking about dark chocolate, which is a truly healthy form of chocolate if you choose the right products.
You’re probably thinking, is dark chocolate good for me?
Well, I’m about to tell you all about dark chocolate and how the benefits of dark chocolate are real.
You eat a lot of chocolate regularly, so I want to help you make a smart and healthy choice.
That way you can have your chocolate guilt-free and with the health benefits of dark chocolate to boot!
Chocolate lovers rejoice when it comes to the health benefits of antioxidants found in chocolate, but it is important to realize that not all chocolates are created equal, not even close.
The potential health benefits of highly sweetened, processed chocolate are little to zero, but the health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and quite impressive.
The main health benefits of dark chocolate are:
One of my favorite benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to fight free radicals.
Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that fight the environmental toxins that we are exposed to daily.
Antioxidants are compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from damage.
Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, useful plant compounds.
One of the most impressive attributes of dark chocolate is its high antioxidant content.
Two prevalent groups of antioxidants in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols.
Therefore, the higher the cocoa/cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more impressive antioxidants you will consume.
It may be hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you eat and love can help prevent cancer, too.
That’s right, one of the health benefits of dark chocolate is its potential as a cancer-fighting food.
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoids found in dark chocolate.
Research has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.
Dark chocolate flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, reducing the risk of blood clots and strokes.
On the other hand, white chocolate with zero flavonoids to brag about had no positive effects on the subjects’ health.
Another study followed the health of more than 20,000 people for 11 years.
The study concluded that “accumulating evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events” and that “there appears to be no evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.
Among the subjects who consumed the most chocolate, 12 percent developed or died of cardiovascular disease during the study, compared with 17.4 percent of those who did not eat chocolate.
This does not give anyone the license to eat a chocolate bar every day, but it is impressive that this large and long study seems to show a positive connection between chocolate consumption and heart health.
Stearic and palmitic acids are indeed forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means that it does not raise or lower it.
The palmitic acid in dark chocolate can increase cholesterol levels, but fortunately, it is only made up of a small portion of the fat in dark chocolate;
Also, dark chocolate has a large number of plant nutrients that make up for palmitic acid.
One study looked at the effects of dark chocolate in 28 healthy volunteer subjects.
The researchers found that just one week of dark chocolate consumption improved lipid profiles and decreased platelet reactivity for both men and women while reducing inflammation only in women.
Studies have also shown that:
• The cocoa polyphenols in dark chocolate may be involved in cholesterol control.
• Consuming three weeks of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
• Consuming 15 days of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate resulted in a decrease in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol of 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.
• Consuming regular dark chocolate for seven days resulted in a 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 9% increase in HDL cholesterol.
Previous research has shown that “acute and chronic ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to brain gray matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols might be beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, such as dementia and stroke. ”
One study demonstrated the ability of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate to improve cognitive ability, specifically in the elderly.
This cross-sectional study of more than 2,000 participants aged 70 to 74 years looked at the relationship between the intake of chocolate, wine, and tea (all rich in flavonoids) and cognitive performance.
The researchers suggest that additional studies should take into account other bioactive substances.
Dietary substances in chocolate, wine, and tea ensure that their flavonoid content helps the brain so much.
One study compared the consumption of white chocolate by type 2 diabetics versus dark chocolate rich in polyphenol-rich in cocoa.
The subjects consumed 25 grams (just under an ounce) of dark or white chocolate for eight weeks.
The researchers found that dark chocolate not only lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive diabetics but also lowered fasting blood sugar.
Of course, if you are diabetic, the higher the cocoa content, which also means the lower the sugar content, the better.
It’s also key to note that this was a very small amount of dark chocolate per day at 0.88 ounces.
In one study, the total flavanol and polyphenol content, as well as the antioxidant activity content of dark chocolate and cocoa powder, were compared to superfruits such as acai, blueberry, bilberry, and pomegranate.
The dark chocolates, cocoa powder, and cocoa drink in the study contained natural or non-alkalized cocoa.
This is important to note, as alkalizing cocoa has been shown to destroy healthy polyphenolic compounds.
So what did the study show? The researchers found that the flavanol content of cocoa powder (30.1 milligrams per gram) was significantly higher than all other super fruit powders.
It was also revealed that the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate was higher than that of all superfruit juices except pomegranate.
The total polyphenol content per serving was also higher for dark chocolate (approximately 1,000 milligrams per serving), which was significantly higher than all fruit juices except pomegranate juice.
While it may be too early to truly list vision improvements as a specific benefit of dark chocolate, a human clinical trial looked at how the contrast sensitivity and visual acuity of thirty participants without pathological eye disease changed after consuming. dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.
The researchers found that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were higher two hours after eating a dark chocolate bar compared to eating milk chocolate.
The study, however, concludes that the duration of these effects and their real-world implications require further testing.
There are several types of chocolate, as you probably already know.
Most people divide chocolate into three categories: white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate.
In reality, the FDA does not have a standard of identity for dark chocolate, but the consensus is that dark chocolate generally contains between 70 and 99 percent cocoa solids or pure cocoa.
Some set the standard for dark chocolate even lower by 60 percent or less. This can be done as there is no set standard at this time.
All chocolate starts as cocoa beans harvested from the plant’s seed pods.
Once harvested, cocoa beans are typically fermented and dried before being sent to factories for further production.
Pure cocoa and pure cocoa powder have antioxidants and health benefits.
However, raw cocoa powder is different because it does not undergo any heating and therefore has more nutrients and health properties.
Raw cocoa powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans, so it retains more of its natural goodness, while cocoa powder is typically heated to much higher temperatures.
The covered cocoa is also washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes its acidity, giving it a darker color and a milder flavor.
Dark chocolate is also known as semisweet chocolate, while extra dark chocolate is often considered the same as bittersweet, although the ratio of cocoa butter to solids can vary between the different varieties.
According to the FDA, semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate is a bar of sweet chocolate that contains no less than 35 percent (by weight) of pure cocoa.
Both semisweet and bittersweet are commonly used in baking, and although the FDA defines them the same way, bittersweet chocolate generally has a deeper flavor and less sweetness than semisweet chocolate.
Unsweetened or bakery chocolate is usually almost 100 percent cocoa without any sweetness.
Due to the higher cocoa content, dark chocolate tastes much richer than milk chocolate.
The more cocoa the chocolate has, the better its quality and of course its flavor.
Cocoa is naturally bitter and has a very strong flavor.
Chocolate makers (especially milk chocolate makers) soften this flavor through processes, such as alkalizing, fermenting, roasting, and adding milk and/or sugar, all of which can destroy healthy flavanols, alter our ability to use them, or nullify our health.
Effects all along with unhealthy additives.
Legally, milk chocolate only needs to be at least 10 percent pure chocolate with at least 3.39 percent milkfat and at least 12 percent milk solids.
Milk proteins can reduce the absorption of healthy antioxidants from cocoa, all of which have been proven through various investigations carried out to date.
What is the problem with milk?
Milk seems to bind to the flavonoids in chocolate, making them unavailable to our bodies.
For this reason, milk or milk chocolate is considered not a good source of antioxidants.
This is also why you don’t want to drink milk with your dark chocolate.
White chocolate is even worse than milk chocolate. White “chocolate” is not properly chocolate for the simple reason that it does not have cocoa solids, it only contains certain amounts of cocoa butter.
I only recommend eating small amounts of minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent or more cocoa content.
This type of chocolate is a healthy chocolate that contains the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar, providing the highest benefits you can get from dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are not beans.
They are the seeds of the Theobroma cacao fruit.
To make dark chocolate, you must dry the cocoa beans and then process them to produce the resulting hardened bars.
You wouldn’t believe that a chocolate bar could be nutritious, but the nutrition of dark chocolate is truly impressive, especially when it comes to fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
The benefits of dark chocolate abound thanks to all this goodness.
Just one ounce of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cocoa solids contains about:
• 168 calories
• 12.8 grams of carbohydrates
• 2.2 grams of protein
• 12 grams of fat
• 3.1 grams of fiber
• 0.5 milligrams manganese (27 percent DV)
• 0.5-milligram copper (25 percent DV)
• 3.3 milligrams iron (19 percent DV)
• 63.8 milligrams magnesium (16 percent DV)
• 86.2 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
• 200 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
• 0.9 milligrams zinc (6 percent DV)
• 2 micrograms of vitamin K (3 percent DV)
• 1.9 micrograms selenium (3 percent DV)
• 20.4 milligrams calcium (2 percent DV)
The long history of chocolate is believed to date back to 1900 B.C.
This is when the Aztec civilization believed that cocoa beans were a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom.
They used the seeds to make a bitter, frothy drink that also included spices, wine, or corn puree.
It was very different from today’s super sweet milk chocolate treats but closer to a minimally processed dark chocolate made from raw cacao.
It was in 1847 that a British chocolate company created the first solid edible chocolate bar from three ingredients: cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar.
Big names like Cadbury, Mars, and Hershey entered the scene in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The love for chocolate has only continued to grow over the years.
Now many traditional chocolate producers make “dark chocolate” which is not very healthy.
On the other hand, there are now more and more companies producing high quality, high cocoa/cocoa content chocolate, which is not only dark but also organic and fair trade.
There is no doubt that dark chocolate is a trend in the market today, and sales do not appear to be declining anytime soon.
In recent years, the chocolate industry has undergone a shift towards premium and certified organic dark chocolate, specifically products that are of single origin.
They have a high cocoa content and use natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia, yacon, or coconut sugar; as well as greater sustainable sourcing and labeling of origin.
As science shows more and more benefits of dark chocolate, its popularity will only continue to grow.
To avoid excess dark chocolate and reap the benefits of dark chocolate, it is a good idea to eat a bite only after a solid meal or include it in a recipe.
If you are sensitive to caffeine or looking to avoid caffeine altogether, it is important to know that there are measurable amounts of caffeine in dark chocolate.
Caffeine side effects can include nervousness, increased urination, insomnia, and a rapid heartbeat – all reasons to avoid overdosing on caffeine.
Chocolate can also cause the following things:
• allergic skin reactions
• colic in babies
• decreased bone density
• dental caries
• increased cholesterol levels
• increased insulin levels
• irregular heart rhythms
• irritable bowel syndrome
• Kidney damage and disorders.
• nausea and vomiting
• Neck Pain
• sleep disorders
• stomach noises and an upset stomach
• swelling under the skin
• Unpleasant taste
• weight gain
This is a long list, but all of these possible side effects can usually be avoided by not consuming too much dark chocolate.
Women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to get pregnant should also ensure that they do not consume large amounts of chocolate. In moderation, dark chocolate is considered safe for pregnant women.
If you are allergic or have an intolerance to dairy products, be very careful about reading the label and doing your research before choosing your dark chocolate.
Another possible allergen to watch out for in dark chocolate (even organic brands) is soy lecithin, which is commonly added as an emulsifying agent.
Dark chocolate is not a low-calorie or low-fat food, so these are other good reasons not to overdo it.
The flavor is so rich that you can enjoy it and get the benefits of dark chocolate with just one little piece.
So is dark chocolate good for you? Surely yes, as long as you choose the right product.
When choosing the best and healthiest option, there are many amazing health benefits of dark chocolate.