15 Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

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Chocolate is considered junk food; food that does your body more harm than good. That is definitely not true; chocolate actually has many benefits for your health. It is healthier than ice cream, chips, and candy.

I know you chocoholics are looking for excuses to eat more chocolate, so here are 15 reasons you should eat more chocolate.

1. Chocolate Is Filled With Antioxidants

chocolate-1277002_960_720Antioxidants are important to save your body from the damage of free radicals that are produced during natural body process such as breathing and from environmental factors such as inhaling smoke.  Free radicals, in the absence of antioxidants, can damage your vital organs, DNA and protein.

Luckily, chocolate contains tons of antioxidants. Raw cocoa beans contain more antioxidants than black berries, raspberries and strawberries.

One of the most beneficial antioxidants in chocolate is resveratrol. Resveratrol is different from other antioxidants because it can pass your blood-brain barrier and help protect your brain and nervous system.

It, in addition to protecting your cells from free radicals, it also inhibits the spread of cancer, lowers blood pressure, and improves the elasticity of your blood vessels. Resveratrol also prevents Alzheimer’s disease and slow down aging.

Other antioxidants in chocolate are polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins.

2. Chocolate Is Very Nutritious

Other than the many antioxidants chocolate contains, it also contains a variety of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, potassium and magnesium. A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 75-80% cocoa contains 67% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron, 89% of the RDA for copper, and 98% of the RDA for manganese.

Dark chocolate is also high in fiber and fatty acids.

However, it is important to note that chocolate is also high in fats and sugar making it a good source of energy. If eaten in large amounts, chocolate causes weight gain.

3. Dark Chocolate Can Help Relieve Coughs

chocolates-276786_960_720If you got the coughs, try eating some chocolate instead of cough syrup. Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine; two compounds that relax certain muscles such as those in the throat and lungs.

Reseachers from London’s Imperial College found that theobromine, helps with coughs better than codeine. Codeine is an ingredient used in cough medicines.

4. Dark Chocolate Decreases Blood Pressure

A study has shown that dark chocolate decreases blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the production of nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide is a gas that relaxes your arteries, reducing the resistance to blood flow and therefore lowering your blood pressure.

5. Dark Chocolate Lowers Cholesterol

You have two types of cholesterol in your body: LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein) which is bad cholesterol and HDL (High-density Lipoprotein) which is good cholesterol.

The flavanoids in dark chocolate lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.

6. Dark Chocolate Is Considered A Superfood

Superfoods are foods that are nutrient-rich and good for your health. Some super foods are Chia seeds, oranges and cocoa beans.

When cocoa power and dark chocolate were tested, they had ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), TP (total polyphenol content) and TF (total flavanol content) values equal to or even greater than other fruit powders and juices.

7. Chocolates Can Help With Weight Loss

chocolates-656087_960_720I made no mistake; dark chocolate can help you lose weight. Dark chocolate increases insulin sensitivity and lowers insulin resistance which is a huge help for weight loss.

Dark chocolate also helps you lose weight by keeping you full. As dark chocolate is high in fiber, it keeps you full and eating it before eating by 15 minutes can make you eat less.

The book Eat chocolate, Lose Weight, by nutritionist and neuroscientist Dr. Will Clower promises that eating chocolate 15 minutes before eating and 5 minutes after will help you lose weight. (It’s a great read for anyone looking to lose weight.)

8. Chocolate Is Good For Your Heart

Multiple studies have found that the flavanoids in chocolate reduce the risk of heart disease.  The polyphenols and catechins that chocolate contain reduce the risk of strokes.

Dark chocolate, more specifically the epicatechins in it, prevent clotting and inflammation which is helpful in preventing some types of strokes.

It also lowers blood pressure which keeps your heart healthier.

9. Chocolate Is An Anti-anxiety Drug

One study found that eating an ounce and a half of chocolate every day for two weeks lowers the levels of stress hormones.

People who rated themselves as highly stressed ate dark chocolate for two weeks. Afterwards, they had less of the fight-or-flight stress hormone cortisol.

Those in the high anxiety group said they felt less anxious after eating the chocolate; however, those in the lower anxiety group felt no difference.

10. Chocolate Is Good For Your Teeth

Even though we’ve all been told not to eat too much chocolate or our teeth will rot, dark chocolate actually fights cavities, tooth decay, and plaque in your mouth.

Not only is chocolate good for your teeth, but it also may be better for your teeth than fluoride; the main ingredient in toothpastes.

Compounds in chocolate have an anti-bacterial affect and fight plaque. They also fight off the sugars that cause tooth decay. Chocolate is the less harmful sweet.

One of the compounds in chocolate, called CBH, hardens your enamel. CBH will be used in mouthwashes and toothpastes, according to predictions new researchers have made.

11. Chocolate Protects Skin From The Sun

Dark chocolate improves blood flow to your skin, increases your skin’s density and hydration, and protects your skin from sun damage.

A  2009 study showed that chocolate more than doubled the minimum amount of UVB rays exposure that causes redness. Chocolate was proved to be very effective at protecting the human skin from harmful UV rays.

12. Chocolate Improves Brain Function

chocolate_cubes_with_coffee_beanChocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which improves brain function in the short term. It also improves the brain’s function in the long term.

One study showed that dark chocolate consumption for five days increased the blood flow to the brain.

Dark chocolate also improved cognitive behavior in elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.

Dark chocolate increased attention, in a British study. Volunteers were more alert and did better in counting tasks.

Chocolate is beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussions.

13. Chocolate Makes Mothers and Babies Happier

chocolate-1202606_960_720Mother’s who ate chocolate during pregnancy were better at handling stress than those who didn’t.

A Finnish study found that the babies of mothers who ate chocolate smiled more often than the babies of those who didn’t.

14.  Chocolate Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes

An Italian study found that chocolate increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is how effective your body is at using insulin to reduce the glucose levels in your blood.

With higher insulin sensitivity, you are less prone to get diabetes.

15. Chocolate Boosts Your Mood

I love chocolate and am happy to eat it. But the mood boost chocolate gives you surpasses the normal enjoyment of food and sweets.

Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, which are brain hormones that make you happy. It also contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.

How Much Chocolate Should You Eat?

Dark chocolate is very healthy, as we’ve just seen. But too much of anything is not good, especially when we are talking about chocolate. Chocolate is high in sugars and fats, which is great for energy but also weight gain.

The ideal amount of chocolate a day is 6.7 grams a day, according to a Cleveland Clinic Study.

What Kind Of Chocolate Should You Eat?

When eating chocolate to say healthy, you’d want to avoid milk chocolate. Milk prevents absortion of polyphenols; one of the healthy compounds in chocolate.

When measured, the healthiest kind of chocolate was found to be cocoa powder. It was followed by unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate.

Now go ahead chocoholics, eat your chocolate without guilt!