The Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is not a guilty pleasure; it actually comes with many health benefits. Real dark chocolate—not processed and sweetened milk chocolate—is chock-full of incredible health benefits. Some nutrients are destroyed in the process of making chocolate available for the general market. Make sure the chocolate you buy is within the healthy range. Check the label: chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cocoa content is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Often called bittersweet, it has minimal sugar. The best way to get all the nutrients from chocolate is simply to use unsweetened cocoa nibs. The bitter, crunchy, seed-like snack isn’t the best-tasting treat, but its nutritional profile makes it worthwhile.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Lowers Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
A few years ago, researchers created an elaborate study seeking to demonstrate the harmful effects of chocolate on the human body. Imagine their surprise when they discovered the opposite to be true! The magnesium and flavanols found in dark chocolate improve the cardiovascular system by keeping blood vessels open and regulating the heart rate.
2. Dark Chocolate Can Aid Against Diabetes
Chocolate has been shown to bolster endothelial function and insulin resistance. The endothelium is extremely important in maintaining arterial health, and insulin resistance is the most commonly checked statistic to determine whether future diseases, like diabetes, will develop. Cocoa and its flavonoids help to positively modulate these systems. Obviously, if you’re hoping to prevent diabetes, you’re going to want to eat low-sugar, dark chocolate.
3. Save your Skin
This is good news for those of you who like to soak up the sun’s amazing vitamin D rich rays. Dark chocolate has been shown to protect against UV rays, increase blood flow to the skin and improve skin’s hydration. A study demonstrated that regularly eating chocolate rich in flavanols offers significant sun protection and can protect from harmful UV effects; while standard milk chocolate had no effect. Of course, never skip the sunscreen in favor of chomping on a few chocolate bars. Look at the chocolate as an added layer of protection instead.
4. It can Improve your Mood
Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that brings on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.
5. A More Effective Workout
Boosting your pre-exercise energy levels, powering through a hard sweat session, and cutting down on post-workout soreness—chocolate helps all three. Cocoa’s catechins and epicatechin, two kinds of antioxidants, increase your muscle’s absorption of nutrients that create energy, which can help you get energized to work out and help carry you through your workout. In one study, these energizing antioxidants produced a 30 percent increased in “fatigue resistance” in lab animals after two weeks of consistent cocoa consumption. Likewise, the anti-inflammatory compounds in cocoa can produce up to a five-fold decrease in your perception of soreness, compared to drinking carb shakes or other muscle-recovery beverages. The best way to benefit? After your workout put a few thumb-sized pieces of dark chocolate on your tongue and let them melt.
6. Dark Chocolate is Full of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant-rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.
Nutritional Facts of Dark Chocolate (1)