To fully reap dark chocolate benefits you need make sure you purchase varieties with a a very high amount of cacao inside of it
Before we get into the dark chocolate benefits I know your eager to find out! Lets briefly go over some introductory information about chocolate in general:
Cacao: You will see this mentioned a lot in this article. Cacao is a plant where the seeds/beans are used to make chocolate.
When your looking for chocolate to eat that will ultimately benefit your body. Then look for chocolate with a high percentage of cacao inside of it. Dark chocolate in general will have a high volume of cacao.
Cacao is quite bitter, and the higher the percentage of cacao, the more bitter the taste. The nutritious polyphenols in cacao are what cause that bitter taste. Companies that male chocolate bars usually remove these in order to take away that bitter taste. But consequently they are taking away all of the health benefits.
Producers will load up chocolate bars with sugar to also counteract some of the bitterness. This also diversely effects the health benefits of the chocolate. So if you want to take advantage of the many dark chocolate benefits. Then make sure you purchase it with a 70% content of cacao within it, or higher!
Also note: white chocolate actually doesn’t contain any health boosting cacao inside of it at all, its just a calorific mess of pasteurized milk and sugar. So try to avoid it!
Right, now its time to delve into the many dark chocolate benefits that can boost your health:
1) Extremely Nourishing to the body
Consuming dark chocolate can be a tasty and efficient way to stay topped up on some major vitamins and minerals. From 100 grams of dark chocolate you can get:
- 10g fiber
- 67% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) Iron
- 58% of the RDA Magnesium.
- 89% of the RDA Copper
- 98% of the RDA Manganese.
Please note that 100 grams is a lot, and I definitely don’t recommend you go out of your way to consume 100 grams of dark chocolate on a daily basis. But as you can see from the list of minerals and vitamins, even just having a few bites of dark chocolate as a daily treat will be great for you! In fact a few bites of dark chocolate is not a bad alternative for a multivitamin!
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine. The higher the cacao content in the chocolate the more caffeine it will have. As a reference, 100 grams of dark chocolate will have approximately 40 mg of caffeine. This isn’t enough to keep you wide awake at night if you happen to take a few bites just before bedtime. But depending on your tolerance it may give you a little kick. Plus a little bit of caffeine has a few benefits of their own. Some caffeine benefits include, reducing muscle pain after a workout, potentially preventing weight gain and detoxing the liver!
3) Fatty acids
Dark chocolate benefits also include having superb fatty acid components. Such as stearic acid which is a saturated fat and oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat. These can help regulate cholesterol levels!
The cacao in dark chocolate have an extremely high amount of antioxidants, which can help prevent free radical damage to the body. To delve down at a lower level the cocoa bean is packed full of flavonoids which are called flavanols. These include:
Now enough of the jargon, what does this mean? Well there are studies which prove that people with a high content of flavonoids in their blood have a much lower risk of:
- Heart disease
- lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
That’s great news for dark chocolate lovers!
5) Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
Dark chocolate benefits also include lowering blood pressure and improving the flow of blood within the body. The flavanols help to stimulate the body’s arteries. Helping to soothe them and reducing the resistance to blood flow. This will consequently reduce blood pressure overall!
6) Increase in HDL cholesterol
7) Reduce LDL cholesterol
Dark chocolate benefits also include reducing LDL cholesterol. Now this is the type of cholesterol you need to be aware of. Its considered bad cholesterol. It creates a hard deposit in your arteries called plaque which could lead to blockages. this is really bad news for blood flow. Consequently a clot could form in your arteries which would narrow them. If this happens you have a high chance of a heart attack or even a stroke.
8) Prevent cardiovascular disease
So this one will link in directly with benefit number 7. Dark chocolate benefits include keeping your heart healthy. As mentioned above, dark chocolate is protective against LDL oxidation and will reduce the risk of narrow arteries due to blockages. Overall this will keep your blood flow moving optimally and keep you heart healthy, therefore preventing cardiovascular disease.
As a note make sure to consume more foods with high HDL cholesterol properties and less LDL properties to improve longevity and reduce the risk of heart problems. Even though dark chocolate is a good place to start including more HDL rich foods in your diet, it would be ridiculous to think just a few bites of dark chocolate everyday would keep cardiovascular disease at bay. Over the long run dark consuming more dark chocolate would help. But you need to keep track on the rest of your diet. Avoiding foods with LDL cholesterol is the best prevention here!
9) Reduce insulin resistance
Dark chocolate benefits also include reducing your resistance to insulin. This is a common factor that can lead to problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Now to understand this properly, the hormone insulin is made by your pancreas and its what helps your cells to use sugar (glucose) for energy to keep you going throughout the day. And when you have a resistance to insulin, your cells have trouble absorbing glucose. This can result in a build up of sugar within the bloodstream! This can potentially damage blood vessels as well. All of these issues can really put you at risk of heart disease and stroke.
With insulin resistance you have a high risk of contracting diabetes. Here are some of the symptoms of diabetes (its beneficial to take note because sometimes its really hard to detect due to the mild symptoms):
- Extreme hunger
- Extreme thirst
- Not feeling full even after a meal
- Increased urination
- Your hands and feet can encounter tingling sensations
- Feeling fatigued and tired more than the norm
Now don’t be too worried if you have some of these symptoms. These could be perfectly normal for you, the only way to know for sure if you have diabetes is to get a doctor to run diagnostic tests on you.
So another reason why dark chocolate is a great healing food! Instead of opting for a sugary unhealthy chocolate bar, get your fix of sweetness from a few bites of dark chocolate!
10) Boost skin health
As mentioned above, the majority of dark chocolate benefits arise due to abundance in flavonols it has. These antioxidants can help prevent UV damage to your skin! This means less wrinkles and less sun spots! Start seeing your skin glow due to the increased blood flow as well!
A lot of people promote the benefits of dark chocolate for looking young and healthy. The flavonols have been proved to increase the hydration of your skin and even the thickness of it. Overall all contributing to beautiful healthy skin.
So have some dark chocolate if your lucky enough to live in a very sunny location. Or even if your heading off to a nice relaxing beach holiday. make sure your body is stocked up on these amazing antioxidant flavonols to help reduce sun damage to your skin. Of course always take extra precaution with sun tan lotion to protect you, if your going to be soaking up some rays!
11) Increase your brain function
Studies have shown that blood flow to the brain improved significantly after consuming dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao! Consequently dark chocolate benefits could improve the cognitive function in elderly people. Not only this but in the short term, you can expect a kick in brain function because of the caffeine content dark chocolate contains.
Any students out there? Why not swap out your fizzy drinks and snacks you eat during class and have a couple bites of dark chocolate. Pair it with some coffee to truly enjoy the acquired flavor of high cacao percentage dark chocolate.
12) Improve your mood and feel happier!
The creation of mood boosting endorphins is another one of many dark chocolate benefits! Endorphins are chemicals that a produced which make you feel great! The kind of feel you get after an intense workout. People who take part in a lot of running activities will no doubt understand what I mean. During a long intense run, people can sometimes come across a runner’s high, where endorphins are created, during this period you reach a state of euphoria. This reduces pain and fatigue. Exercise in general can help produce this wonderful chemical and is great for reducing stress!
Going through a rough patch recently and feeling down? Then if you want to put yourself in a great mood again, exercise more and get your self some dark chocolate!
13) Protect your brain from free radical damage
Your brain is subjected to oxygen in order for it to stay healthy and function. In fact your brain uses around 20% of the body’s total intake of oxygen. Because of this, the brain has a high risk to free radical damage. Free radicals can attack cells in your brain, so try and avoid the damage by enjoying some antioxidant packed dark chocolate.
14) Reduce stress!
So as mentioned before dark chocolate benefits also include promoting the creation of the feel good chemical endorphins. This definitely reduces stress, but that’s not the only stress reducing property of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is abundant in magnesium which is a major mineral in helping you relax. Magnesium does this by suppressing cortisol, the stress hormone.
Now this is very important, having too much cortisol in your body can be a real detriment to your health. Our bodies are great healers, when you are ill, your body gets to work trying to repair you, whether it be fighting off an infection or broken proteins. But when you have too much cortisol in your body the natural automatic repair functions in the body don’t work! If your suffering from an illness, you need to make sure you cut stress out of your life to efficiently heal.
So how do you know if you have too much stress in your body? Here’s a list of the symptoms you may come across:
- Poor sleep quality
- Still tired after waking up
- Weight gain around the stomach
- Increased susceptibility to catching a cold and flu
- Gastrointestinal distress
As you can see, cortisol has a major impact on you health and can be very debilitating. So take action to start reducing stress in your life. Enjoy the cortisol reducing dark chocolate benefits as a start. Kick back and relax after a long day with a few pieces of dark chocolate and maybe even a nice herbal tea. Chamomile is perfect to help you feel relaxed!
15) Improve gut bacteria
This a great reason to consume more dark chocolate! In your gut you have good and bad bacteria. Your good bacteria should be dominating though, if its the other way around you will have a lot of digestive problems! Symptoms could include:
- Stomach cramps
- Feeling very full after eating
One of the most useful dark chocolate benefits is that it increases beneficial bacteria within your gut and can help them thrive. This is great news for your brain health and mood as well. There is a strong mind and gut connection. A happy gut makes for a happy mind. There are studies which show strong links between people who have gastrointestinal distress and depression.
So if your stomach is feeling off these days, try and increase your intake of probiotic foods such as dark chocolate. If you want some more ideas on how to improve your digestive health then check out:
16) Improve eye health and performance
Dark chocolate benefits eye health as well! High quality dark chocolate with a high cacao content can help people see better in low contrast conditions. Studies have proven that supplementing on cacao can help enhance visual performance. This has been said to be brought on by the increased blood flow to the retina and the brain as mentioned before. Studies have also shown that cacao supplementation also improved cognitive ability.
17) The slimming effect
Eating chocolate can make you slimmer?!
Well studies have shown that even chocolate that is packed full of calories do actually contain components that promote weight loss. Research shows that adults who have eaten chocolate on a frequent basis actually had a lower BMI then those who didn’t! Not to mention that the amount of calories in chocolate decreases with a higher content of cacao.
Now don’t get the wrong idea and think eating a load of regular calorific chocolate bars will help you get slimmer. In the studies mentioned above, there are a lot of other factors that haven’t been recorded, such as the lifestyle and activity levels of each individual studied. But what can be said is that chocolate does have healthy components in them which could promote slimming. The best way to take advantage of this is to opt for dark chocolate with high concentrations of cacao inside of it. By eating dark chocolate regularly instead of the standard sugary stuff, you don’t have the risk of putting on weight from the extra calories. Plus you get to absorb all of the beneficial slimming components of chocolate!
18) Prevents wrinkles
As mentioned previously, dark chocolate benefits the skin greatly. You may be aware of topical creams and lotions that advertise their effectiveness of helping people look younger. But these creams can only go so far. To truly improve you skin, you need to include nutritious ingredients into your diet. A healthy body and lifestyle equals healthy looking skin.
Wrinkles can appear on your face from a variety of reasons, one of the main reasons why we get wrinkles is because of free radical damage. Free radicals can leave your skin looking worn out, and these can be found in the very environment that we live in. Its very hard to avoid free radical damage, so the best way to prevent the effects of it is to consume antioxidants. Dark chocolate has actually been found to contain more antioxidants then some fruits and vegetables! So why not see how dark chocolate benefits your skin by consuming a bit of it every now and then.
19) Helps you live longer
Studies have shown that the many antioxidants dark chocolate are abundant in can actually help to improve your longevity. One of the reasons is that these antioxidants can help the body prevent/fight diseases and heart problems you may be exposed to at old age.
20) Slows down muscle aging
Some dark chocolate benefits are due to the compound epicatechin found within it. This plant compound can stimulate a similar muscle response that strenuous exercise would cause. This compound can also slow down muscle aging and increase lean muscle mass!
Okay so that’s 20 amazing dark chocolate benefits you should be taking advantage of. Now eating a couple chunks of dark chocolate a day could help. But for a lot of people, they find the taste of dark chocolate very bitter, and not as enjoyable as the sugary calorific milk chocolate bars. Well here’s a few tips on how you can make the most of the exquisite dark chocolate flavor, as well as the dark chocolate benefits:
- Grate up some shards of dark chocolate and distribute it over your morning porridge/oatmeal! Its a great way to add dark chocolate into your diet when your not yet used to the strong taste.
- Fruit and dark chocolate really work well. If you have a fruit platter, why not add a few chocolate curls to it. Something like this would be great to serve at a dinner party for desert.
- Is it a really hot day? And your craving some ice cream, well why not add a few dark chocolate slices to it. Dark chocolate and a very light mellow vanilla ice cream goes great together. Mix it up and see which flavors of ice cream you prefer with some dark chocolate!
- For a luxuriously delicious deluxe chocolate brownie recipe, why not add a few shavings of dark chocolate on top. Once again topped off with a side of vanilla ice cream would be perfect.
- Many chocolate connoisseurs say the best way to enjoy dark chocolate fully, is to eat it straight. In order to do this start off with a lower percentage of cacao in the dark chocolate and learn to enjoy it. Then slowly work your way up to the higher quality stuff. For all you coffee lovers, a great way to enjoy and enhance the flavor is to take a bite of dark chocolate and drink a nice coffee along side it. Sounds like a perfect after dinner treat!
I hope you enjoyed this article and your persuaded to go out and grab yourself some high quality dark chocolate! Feel the benefits and treat yourself with this healthy snack! Feel free to share this knowledge to other chocolate lovers and comment below on your experiences with dark chocolate!