Dark chocolate is one of the world’s favorite foods. It’s a reliable go-to comfort food during times of stress, when we’re feeling down, or even when you’re feeling romantic. But did you know the health benefits of dark chocolate make it a “superfood”?
It’s also one of the most searched terms on Lose Weight by Eating and something I personally enjoy from time to time.
But… is dark chocolate good for you?
I decided to get the facts about dark chocolate and find out what the real benefits are. (Spoiler alert, it IS good for you!)
Here are 8 amazing health benefits of dark chocolate:
#1. Dark Chocolate May Help You Lose Weight
Studies have found that eating chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after lunch and dinner have been shown to cut your appetite by up to 50 percent. The flavonoids help decrease the potential for insulin resistance. (1)
It also contains healthy fats, which slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps prevent an insulin spike, which directs sugar straight into your fat cells.
I don’t recommend you go out and eat a lot of chocolate if you’re trying to lose weight, but it can be an effective weight loss tool if used right. Each helping should be no bigger than the end of your thumb.
#2. Dark Chocolate Is A Great Source Of Antioxidants
There are organic compounds in dark chocolate that function as antioxidants. Antioxidants prohibit nasty chemicals called “free radicals” (which you take in from breathing oxygen) from damaging your body.
One study showed that cocoa contained more antioxidants than other fruits they tested, including some antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries and Acai berries! (2)
#3. Dark Chocolate Is Nutritious
Good dark chocolate (the kind with a high cocoa content) can contain a nutritious amount of fiber and minerals. A typical 100 gram (3 ½ oz) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains: (3)
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the recommended daily allowance for Iron.
- 89% of the recommended daily allowance for Copper.
- 98% of the recommended daily allowance for Manganese.
- 58% of the recommended daily allowance for Magnesium.
- It also contains lots of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Be aware that 3 ½ ounces is a lot of chocolate and contains over 600 calories and a lot of fat and sugar, so moderation is very important here. The fats are even not that bad for you since they are mainly saturated and monounsaturated, with low amounts of polyunsaturates.
#4. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Circulation
There is a substance that makes dark chocolate good for you called flavanols. Cocoa flavanols are the plant-based nutrients found naturally in cocoa which help keep platelets less sticky, decreasing your risk for heart attack or stroke from a clot.
Dark chocolate relaxes blood vessels, which help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular function. (4)
A higher percentage of cacao (cocoa) means a higher amount of flavanols, and the better it is for your health.
#5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Heart Disease or Stroke
Studies have shown that the flavanols in dark chocolate help significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. They keep platelets less sticky, decreasing your risk for heart attack or stroke from a clot. (5)
#6. Dark Chocolate Can Be Good For Your Skin
The flavanols in dark chocolate can help your skin look its best. The antioxidants in flavanol help your skin protect itself from UV damage, fight free radicals,and increase blood flow resulting in less wrinkles and a healthier glow.
Flavanols in dark chocolate have even been found to improve skin hydration and thickness – both important for healthy looking skin… Yes, it will make you pretty… you know you love me now! (6)
#7. Dark Chocolate May Make You Smarter
Research suggests chocolate may boost your memory, reaction time, attention span, and problem solving abilities by increasing blood flow to your brain. So the next time you need to take a test, have some for an extra brain boost!
#8. Dark Chocolate May Help Lower Cholesterol
Studies have shown that consumption of cocoa can reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. (8)
Dark chocolate improves several important risk heart disease risk factors. It lowers lipid profiles and platelet reactivity, lowers the susceptibility of bad LDL to oxidative damage, while increasing good HDL. (9).
What Is Chocolate?
Chocolate is made from seeds of a cocoa tree, or cocoa beans. The beans grow in pods which contain about 40 cocoa beans per cocoa pod. Each year, one cocoa tree produces enough cocoa to make about 400-800 bars of chocolate.
There are two types of chocolate: Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate (White Chocolate is not considered chocolate at all since it contains no cocoa or real health benefits… not that I don’t have some in my pantry right now far baking… but I digress, back to the real chocolate.)
They are both made in similar ways, except with milk chocolate condensed milk or milk solids are added.
Of the two type types of chocolate, milk or dark, there’s only one healthy chocolate – dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains less cocoa and too much fat, sugar and calories to be beneficial to your health.
Dark chocolate, once considered a rare treat, has now become one of the most popular healthy foods available and is often found at the checkout counter in Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Amazon, and other specialty retailers.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate – Conclusion
The rise in popularity is thanks to the many health benefits: It’s good for the heart, blood circulation and brain function, skin, boosts your mood, and more.
But all chocolate should always be consumed in moderation, and as a sometimes treat. Obviously, if you eat tons you won’t be doing any good for your health, but eating chocolate in moderation it can have some positive health benefits.
It’s important to purchase the best dark chocolate you can find. The majority of chocolate on the market is garbage, with very little nutritional value, so always look for the quality stuff with more that 70% cocoa. A lot of places now offer organic dark chocolate, which is even better for you since it reduces that possibilities of eating bad chemicals.
So go ahead and allow yourself a little everyday, I do and it helps curb sweet cravings, and like we’ve highlighted above it makes you prettier, smarter, healthier… and in my case much less likely to raid the leftover holiday candy in the back of the pantry!