Surprising Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

To all chocolate lovers, including yours truly, I come bearing good news! Eating chocolate, especially dark varieties, with more than 70% cocoa, is good for your health. Before delving into those fantastic health benefits, here are some impressive statistics and facts about the yummy delicious treat.

It’s estimated that 98.2bn dollars worth of chocolate is consumed worldwide, and America alone consumes 22.4bn dollars of this amount.

Simply put, the United States alsone consumes 22.8% of the world’s chocolate.

The treat, particularly its dark variety, is derived from cocoa beans, which are very rich in antioxidants. The source of the rich antioxidants is polyphenol – flavanols, namely plant-based substances that, when consumed, provide the body with tremendous health benefits.

They make chocolate a superfood, and they give consumers numerous benefits to continue on the path they have chosen. If you are not into dark chocolate, a brief look at the benefits at stake could make you change your mind, or at least present you from judging those who indulge.

Surprising Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

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1. Exceptionally Nutritious

Besides containing a substantial amount of fiber, dark chocolate with 75% more cocoa content is packed full of minerals, including:

  • Potassium,
  • Calcium,
  • Iron,
  • Zinc,
  • Magnesium,
  • Copper,
  • Phosphorus,
  • and Selenium.

It is also packed with antioxidants, and these are very good at maintaining general health and fitness.

2. Great for Improving and Maintaining Heart Health

The flavonoids contained by dark chocolate help reduce blood pressure and also increase the flow of blood to the brain and heart. They are also essential in preventing the risk of blood clots.

A study carried out by the International Journal of Cardiology found that people who ate dark chocolate on a daily basis showed remarkable improvement in their heart health compared to those who consumed white chocolate on a regular basis.

It is important to note that dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, unlike white varieties.

A review analysis carried out by a group of British researchers covered seven studies on chocolate and its effect on heart health.

It involved more than 111,400 voluntary subjects in countries including the United States, Japan, and Sweden among others. The conclusion was that people who ate more chocolate significantly reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease.

10. Helps to Reduce Stress

The caffeine/theobromine in dark chocolate helps lower stress hormones levels by producing endorphins, which relax us and elevate our mood.

So, the next time you are feeling stressed, have a square or 2 of dark chocolate and don’t allow any feelings of guilt.

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Now that you know that eating dark chocolate has tremendous health benefits, it’s important to remember that everything should be done with moderation.

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Otherwise, not only will you not reap the benefits mentioned above but you could do more harm than good.

The recommended amount of dark chocolate to consume is 1 ounce daily.

Its cocoa content should be 75% or more. You should savor and enjoy every bite of it, and share a little with your loved ones as well.

Eating dark chocolate does help you bring down your stress levels. But there are many different sources of stress. Here you can learn to manage stress by these stress relief techniques.

4. Great for Improving Brain Health

Research has shown that regular consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate is associated with the increased flow of blood to the brain and, thereby, helpful in preventing diseases such as dementia and stroke.

Apart from disease prevention, increased blood flow also helps improve cognitive functions. Further, the anti-inflammatory properties of flavanols have been valuable in the treatment of brain injuries such as concussions.

Generally your cognitive skills lower as you grow old. Learn how to improve your cognitive skills.

5. Great for the Skin

The flavanols in dark chocolate have also been found to protect the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, preventing sunburn and skin cancer.

Also, because of its high mineral content, it promotes cell growth and increases skin hydration.

6. Helps Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium to produce Nitric oxide, which increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

Also, the high content of magnesium and copper present in dark chocolate helps maintain blood pressure at normal levels.

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7. Helps Prevent Diabetes and Benefits Type 2 Diabetes, Sufferers

A study carried out in Italy found that participants who ate a substantial amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis for 15 days had their resistance to insulin drop by nearly half.

This is because the Nitric Oxide gas produced by flavonols enhances insulin sensitivity, thereby lowering blood sugar levels.

Because dark chocolate is great at balancing sugar levels, it is very helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes.

8. Fantastic for Weight Loss

Please don’t get me wrong: eating sweet chocolate candy is not going to help you lose weight, because those are full of sugar.

However, eating a reasonable amount of dark chocolate daily can really help you with your weight loss goals.

Here is why:

  • Dark chocolate can help suppress appetite by reducing cravings and replacing other snacks. Because dark chocolate is more filling than other lighter variations, it can successfully replace unhealthy sweet, fatty, and salty snacks.
  • Therefore, the next time you find yourself craving, have a square or 2 of rich dark chocolate, and the cravings will go away.
  • According to the neuroscientist Will Clower, a small portion of dark chocolate before a meal causes the body to produce leptin, the hormone that sends a signal to the brain telling it that it is full.

The brain will inhibit the feeling of hunger and help you eat less on that meal. Therefore, before you sit down for your next meal, don’t hesitate to eat a small piece of dark chocolate. It should help you eat less and fill up faster.

You can also check out these healthy soup recipes for weight loss.

9. Great at Making You Feel Better

It’s no wonder we always reach for chocolate whenever we feel down. Dark chocolate stimulates the production of the ‘happiness hormone’ called serotonin, which elevates our mood and improves our emotional state.

Dark chocolate also contains caffeine/theobromine, nutrients that have also been proven able to boost our mood.

10. Good at Maintaining Overall Cholesterol Levels

Cocoa butter contains approximately equal amounts of oleic acid to olive oil. Oleic Acid is a monosaturated omega-9 fatty acid which is excellent for heart health. It contains stearic acid, about which researchers found that it has a balancing effect on cholesterol.

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Although present in small amounts, the palmitic acid in dark chocolate contains valuable plant nutrients.

Finally, the polyphenols in dark chocolate have been found to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL ( bad cholesterol), hence preventing cardiovascular diseases.

After you’ve treated yourself, don’t hesitate to drop a comment and let us know what dark chocolate variety you prefer and whether you’ve started experiencing the benefits.

Share this post with your friends to let them know they have no reason to feel guilty for satisfying their sweet tooth with the dark goodies!

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Kamapala is a blogger and writer. She writes about her personal development with the hope of inspiring and encouraging others. She is studying to become a life coach so she can help others fulfill their life's potential. She is passionate about changing lives through love and kindness.