If you’re used to eating sugar filled milk chocolate then the unsweetened and bitter dark chocolate variety may be an acquired taste, but eat this highly nutritious food as part of a healthy and you’ll provide your body with a whole host of health benefits.
The cocoa bean, also known as the cacao bean, is grown natively in South and Central America and is used to make both dark (good) chocolate and milk (bad) chocolate. It’s this bean that contains all the magic and because milk chocolate contains less cocoa and more sugar the health benefits are negligible and outweighed by the bad.
In other words, you have to eat dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 85 percent cocoa to receive the health benefits. For which there are many and here they are.
Tweet this: Six health benefits of eating dark chocolate
1. Dark chocolate is highly nutritious
Dark chocolate is rammed full of minerals and according to Nutritional Data a 100g bar contains 98 percent of the recommended dietry allowance (RDA) for Manganese, 89 percent for Copper, 67 percent for Iron and 58 percent for Magnesium.
2. It is full of antioxidants
Anything that prevents your body’s cells from damaging themselves must be good right? Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that do just that. Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which support the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and they have been associated with decreased risk of certain cancers too. Dark chocolate has a higher antioxidant score than even blueberries.
3. It helps raise “good cholesterol” HDL and fights against “bad cholesterol LDL
According to the excellent Authority Nutrition, dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease by lowering the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.
4. It may reduce high blood pressure
While not certain, some research has concluded that the flavanol-rich foods like dark chocolate may help reduce high blood pressure. A 2012 review on the available evidence on the effects of cholocate on blood pressure concluded that cocoa may help lower blood pressure. The authors of the review stated that more longer-term trials were required to have more understanding conclusive evidence on the long term benefits on blood pressure however.
5. It is good for your brain health
According to Be Brain Fit dark chocolate can help with brain health in numerous ways such as, making you happy by producing the ‘feel good’ endorphins, improving blood flow to the brain, protecting the brain against free radicals and improving learning, memory and focus.
6. It is good for your heart health
A recent study published in the journal Heart found that people who eat dark chocolate regularly had a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes compared to those that didn’t eat it at all. Also, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that those good old flavanols help restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, both of which are known to play a significant role in atherosclerosis.
Eat away until your heart’s content. Be mindful of the high calories however.
Using cocoa butter, cocoa powder and fruit extract sweetener you can make your own dark chocolate like I have below. Add some nuts and a few dried fruits and you’re good.