With a flavor that can only be described as heavenly, who doesn’t love chocolate? While chocolate products may be high in sugar and fat, we’ve got good news for you! There is a chocolate out there that is not just delicious, but considered healthy! If you’ve dreamt of eating sweets every day, now you have a good excuse.
Dark chocolate to the rescue! Studies have shown that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients. A superfood, dark chocolate contains phytonutrients called flavonoids, plant chemicals that act as antioxidants and may play a role in cancer prevention, heart health, and weight loss.
The cacao plant that chocolate is derived from contains a compound that can help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Cacao is packed with many antioxidants, more than green tea or red wine! The darker you go, the more antioxidants you’ll get, so be sure to choose a chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao. While dark chocolate is a much healthier choice than milk chocolate, be mindful that it is high in calories and saturated fat. To avoid weight gain, it is recommended to only eat one ounce of dark chocolate per day.
Now, let’s look at what this treat offers.
Dark Chocolate May Help Prevent Heart Disease and Lower the Risk of Stroke
One of the biggest benefits is that dark chocolate may help improve heart health. A study found that people who ate dark chocolate had a lower risk of both heart disease and strokes. The chemicals in dark chocolate help produce nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and blood pressure to lower.
Dark Chocolate May Improve Cognition, Prevent Memory Loss, and Boost Mood
No, it’s not your imagination. Research has shown that eating dark chocolate may benefit your brain! Dark chocolate stimulates activity in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which in turn decreases stress and improves mood. The cacao in dark chocolate may have positive effects on memory, cognition, and mood.
Dark Chocolate Could Improve Blood Sugar Levels, and Reduce the Risk of Developing Diabetes
Eating chocolate every day may not sound like the best way to prevent diabetes, but studies have shown healthy amounts of dark chocolate could improve how the body metabolizes glucose. Insulin resistance causes high blood glucose (sugar) causing type 2 diabetes. By improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin, resistance is reduced, and in turn, the risk of diabetes decreases.
Dark Chocolate Is Good for Your Gut and May Help with Weight Loss
A daily dose of chocolate may not seem like a great way to lose weight, but research has found that dark chocolate may help in controlling appetite, which in turn could help with weight loss. Eating a bit of dark chocolate before or after meals signals the brain that you’re full. Of course, eating more than what is recommended, can counteract any potential weight loss. It is also believed that chocolate behaves like a fiber that helps the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Dark Chocolate Fights Free Radicals and May Play a Role in Cancer Prevention
The antioxidants in dark chocolate protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, thought to be responsible for aging and disease. The free radicals in your body attack your cells and can lead to low-grade inflammation and to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that people who eat dark chocolate develop fewer cancers.
It’s Good for Your Skin
Dark chocolate is packed full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your skin. Manganese helps in the production of collagen, a protein that helps keep skin looking young and healthy. Calcium helps repair and renew skin, Studies have also found the high levels of antioxidants in dark chocolate may protect skin from the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun.
Dark Chocolate May Send Good Cholesterol up, Bad Cholesterol Down
Dark chocolate is also a cholesterol-lowering food and may help in raising “good” cholesterol. Cocoa butter contains oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fat, the same fat you find in heart-healthy olive oil.
Dark chocolate is a superfood with surprising yet delicious benefits. If you’re going to indulge, choose a piece of dark chocolate!