Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate - A Health Trend We Can Get Behind
Meredith Miller | Published: June 14, 2018
Theobroma Cacao, also known as by the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas as “The Food of the Gods", is one of the best medicinal superfoods to consume for optimal health. Theobroma Cacao is the scientific name for the cocoa bean which is what creates the flavorful chocolate that we love. The history chocolate dates back to Mesoamerica. The Aztecs called chocolate “xocoatl", which referenced the bitter drink brewed from the cacao bean.
For roughly 90% of chocolate’s history, it was mainly consumed as a beverage. The sweet pulp that surrounds the encapsulated bean was fermented into a beverage during that time period. According to ancient Aztec history, it was even considered a valuable form of currency. Today, we use the term “cacao" while referring to the plant before processing it, while the term “chocolate" refers to anything created from the cacao bean.
Is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
The countless health benefits dark chocolate provides are phenomenal. From antioxidants, to minerals, to fighting free radicals and phytochemicals, the nutritional perks are astonishing. Rich in flavonoids (a large amount of plant pigments), the dark chocolate benefits even play a role in cancer prevention. The remarkable health benefits of dark chocolate also makes your blood thinner, which deters strokes and blood clots. Lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure also adds to the growing list of benefits this delightful food provides .
What’s the best dark chocolate for you?
When processing the cacao bean, the methods used can affect the flavanols content within the product. It has less flavanols when it’s labeled with “processed with alkali". This particular process is called “dutching". This process reduces the antioxidants within the chocolate. In my opinion, the best dark chocolate to choose is the ones that have the least ingredients as possible.
Usually the best dark chocolate to consume are the ones that have a 70% or higher total cocoa content. The higher the percentage, the higher concentration of nutrients. If the ingredients initially states the content as having cocoa, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and cocoa butter, then that should be your determining factor. My advice is to avoin brands that contain large amounts of sugar or trans fat. There really should only be a few ingredients on the label packaging.
How much dark chocolate should you eat a day?
The health benefits of dark chocolate are staggering enough to indulge, but not without being responsible. Dark chocolate is still loaded with fat and calories within its contents. It’s advised to consume roughly one to two ounces a day (30 grams to 60 grams).
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
We know dark chocolate is good for us, so now it’s time to get into specifics. Here is a list that highlights some of the best health benefits dark chocolate has to offer.
Rich In Antioxidants
Dark chocolate are high in antioxidants which are in the form of flavanols. Dark chocolate nutrition boasts some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food – even higher than blueberries, cranberries and acai berries. If you’ve never heard of ORAC, (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), then you’re not alone. It measures the activity of the antioxidants in our foods.
High In Fiber
Dark chocolate health benefits include high fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus as well as a few other minerals.
Lowers Potential Cardiovascular Risks
Dark chocolate nutrition lowers your risk of a heart attack and stroke by improving the cardiovascular system, which regulates your heart rate and keeps the blood vessels open.
Balances Sugar Levels
A dark chocolate health benefit that’s remarkable as well, is that it lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes, by managing your blood sugar level. The cacao in dark chocolate enhances the sensitivity to insulin.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Dark chocolate nutrition lowers your blood pressure. As stated earlier in this post, dark chocolate contains flavonoids and magnesium which improve vascular function and ultimately lower blood pressure levels.
Improves Brain Function
This amazing superfood has been noted to increase blood flow to the brain. This benefit stagnates the dreaded onset of Alzheimer’s disease, decreases inflammation and saturated fat buildup. Keep in mind though, it does have monounsaturated fat, which is a healthier fat version. So moderation should always be considered and implemented.
Improves Skin Health
Another one of the health benefits of dark chocolate is that it aids in hydration and blood flow. which improves our overall skin health. Consuming dark chocolate builds up our UV resistance protecting our skin from the harmful sun rays.
Combats Tooth Decay
Dark chocolate health benefits even fights tooth decay. In dark chocolate there’s an ingredient called “theobromine". This particular ingredient hardens our tooth enamel, thus warding off cavities.
Aids in Constipation
The flavonoids in dark chocolate can block fluid secretion in our intestinal cells, which aid in diarrheal relief.
The Feel Better Food
The health benefits of dark chocolate even stimulates endorphin production, which gives us a feeling of euphoria and pleasure. Serotonin is also produces during consumption.
Is dark chocolate bad for you at all?
Dark chocolate nutrition can have its drawbacks if over consumed. Since it contains caffeine, is relatively high in fat and sugar. It’s wise to consume moderately.
Overall, the dark chocolate health benefits are phenomenal to say the least. There aren’t too many treats that have such an array of medicinal compounds. They’re so many plants that aids us humans with well being and vitality. The health benefits of dark chocolate makes the cacao plant and arsenal to our livelihood.