Wednesday, July 17, 2024

7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Eating dark chocolate with high cocoa content in moderation can deliver antioxidants and minerals and may help protect you from heart disease. But it may also contain high amounts of sugar and calories.

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.

Made from the seed of the cacao tree, it’s one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find.

Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease.

Here are 7 health benefits of dark chocolate or cocoa that are supported by science:

1. Very Nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it’s quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 66% of the DV for iron
  • 57% of the DV for magnesium
  • 96% of the DV for copper
  • 85% of the DV for manganese
  • In addition, it has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. These nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also good. The fats consist mostly of oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.

Stearic acid has a neutral effect on body cholesterol. Palmitic acid can raise cholesterol levels, but it only makes up one-third of the total fat calories.

Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but it’s unlikely to keep you awake at night, as the amount of caffeine is very small compared with coffee.

2. Powerful Source of Antioxidants

ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It’s a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of the food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can disarm the free radicals.

Based on these studies, chocolate is considered rich in antioxidants. But the biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, as it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

Research in humans does not always show the same range of antioxidant effects for chocolate. But experts say there isn’t enough evidence yet to say for certain.

Dark chocolate is loaded with biologically active organic compounds that function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, among others.

According to research, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help lower some forms of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol when combined with other foods like almonds and cocoa.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.

3. May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavonoids in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO).

One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, though the effects are usually mild.

However, one study in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure showed no effect, so take this with a grain of salt.

It’s possible that people who are already receiving treatment for high blood pressure may not get any additional benefit from adding cocoa flavanols to their diet.

Given the great variation between studies on this subject, it’s clear that more research is needed.

4. Raises HDL and Protects LDL from Oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. It may protect against high cholesterol.

In a small study, eating dark chocolate supplemented with the flavanol lycopene was found to significantly decrease levels of total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Some forms of LDL cholesterol are more likely to oxidize, which happens if they react with free radicals in your body. Oxidation makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidation-prone forms of LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.

The flavanols in dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

However, dark chocolate also contains sugar, which can have the opposite effect.

5. May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.

In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.

Research shows a fairly drastic improvement.

Over time, several studies have shown that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.

A review of studies revealed that eating chocolate 3 times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9%. Eating chocolate more often showed little additional benefit.

Another review suggested that eating 45 grams of chocolate per week lowers cardiovascular disease risk by 11%. Consuming more than 100 grams per week does not appear to produce health benefits.

A 2017 clinical trial found that subjects who consumed almonds with or without dark chocolate showed improved LDL cholesterol levels.

Although all of these findings are promising, more evidence is needed to know if it was the chocolate that reduced the risk.

However, since the biological process is known (lower blood pressure and lower oxidization-prone LDL), it’s plausible that regularly eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate Benefits

6. May Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.

The flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration.

The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin 24 hours after exposure.

Studies have shown that MED can increase and even double after consuming high-flavanol dark chocolate or cocoa for 12 weeks. The result is that your skin has better protection from the sun.

If you’re planning a beach vacation, consider enjoying some extra dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.

But check with your doctor or dermatologist before forgoing your normal skincare routine in favor of more dark chocolate. And remember that chocolate can’t replace sunscreen and other forms of sun protection.

7. Could Improve Brain Function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your brain.

Studies show that eating high-flavanol cocoa can improve blood flow to the brain in young adults. This may explain why eating cocoa daily appears to improve attention, verbal learning, and memory.

Cocoa flavonoids may also help maintain cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and reduce the chance of progressing to dementia. But more research is needed.

Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term,

FAQs

Is 100% Dark Chocolate the Healthiest?

There are a lot of nutrients in dark chocolate that can help your health. It is one of the best sources of antioxidants that you can find and is made from the seed of the cacao tree. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve health and reduce the risk of heart disease in studies.

Is Dark Chocolate Good for Health?

Antioxidants that fight disease are abundant in dark chocolate. It may help lower blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, according to studies. According to research, dark chocolate is indeed a heart-healthy chocolate treat when it is free of sugar and saturated fat.

Is It Ok to Eat One Dark Chocolate a Day?

According to experts, the “dose” that should be taken is about 30-60g or 1 to 2 ounces. If you indulge in anything else, you might be consuming too many calories. There are 190 calories in a 41-gram, 1.45-ounce Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar.

Related article

The Web Hunters
The Web Huntershttps://www.thewebhunters.com/
As a full-service digital agency with capabilities across web design & development, marketing, and branding, we work with clients to unlock value through creativity, technology, and business-minded thinking.

Must read