Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients that are beneficial to one’s health.
Made from cocoa tree seeds, it is one of the greatest sources of antioxidants available.
According to studies, dark chocolate may boost health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Here are seven scientifically documented health advantages of cocoa or dark chocolate.
If you get high-quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, it is fairly healthy.
It has a substantial quantity of soluble fibre and an abundance of minerals.
A bar of dark chocolate containing 70–85 per cent cacao comprises (1):
- 11 grams of protein.
- 67% of the daily value of iron
- 58% of the daily value of magnesium
- 89 per cent of the total value of copper
- 98 per cent of the value-based median
In addition, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are abundant.
Obviously, 100 grammes (3.5 ounces) is a considerable quantity and should not be consumed every day. In addition to containing 600 calories and a reasonable quantity of sugar, these nutrients are also nutritious.
Due to this, dark chocolate should be taken in moderation.
Also advantageous is the fatty acid composition of cocoa and dark chocolate. The majority of the fats are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is a heart-healthy fat that is also present in olive oil.
Stearic acid has no influence on the body’s cholesterol levels. Palmitic acid may increase cholesterol levels, yet it accounts for just one-third of the total calories from fat.
In addition to caffeine and theobromine, dark chocolate includes stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, however, the quantity of caffeine is negligible compared to coffee.
Source of potent antioxidants
ORAC refers to the ability to absorb oxygen radicals. It’s a measurement of foods’ antioxidant activity.
Essentially, researchers expose a sample of a meal to a large number of free radicals (harmful) to see how well the antioxidants in the food can neutralise the free radicals.
Due to the fact that ORAC levels are evaluated in a test tube and may not have the same impact on the body as in vitro, their biological significance is questioned.
Notably, raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been evaluated.
Organic substances that are physiologically active and function as antioxidants are abundant in dark chocolate. These include, among others, polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins.
One study revealed that cocoa and dark chocolate included greater antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits examined, including blueberries and acai berries (2).
Possible to enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure
Dark chocolate flavanols may stimulate the endothelium, the lining of the arteries, to create nitric oxide (NO) (3Trusted Source).
One of NO’s tasks is to transmit signals to the arteries to relax, hence reducing the resistance to blood flow and blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies demonstrate that cocoa and dark chocolate may enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure, although in a modest manner (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
However, one research including individuals with hypertension found no impact, so take this with a grain of salt (8Trusted Source).
Given the wide difference across studies on this topic, it is evident that further study is required (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Increasing HDL and preventing oxidation of LDL
By consuming dark chocolate may reduce numerous significant cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Men’s oxidised LDL (bad) cholesterol was shown to be considerably reduced by cocoa powder in a controlled trial. Additionally, it boosted HDL and decreased total LDL in those with high cholesterol (11Trusted Source).
LDL cholesterol that has interacted with free radicals is oxidised.
This renders the LDL particle reactive and capable of causing damage to other tissues, such as the lining of your heart’s arteries.
It seems to reason that cocoa reduces oxidised LDL levels. It includes a wealth of potent antioxidants that enter the circulation and protect lipoproteins from oxidative damage (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Dark chocolate flavanols may help improve insulin resistance, another important risk factor for illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, dark chocolate includes sugar, which might have the opposite effect.
May lessen the risk of heart disease
It seems that the chemicals in dark chocolate are very protective against LDL oxidation.
This should result in much less cholesterol accumulating in the arteries over time, lowering the risk of heart disease.
Several long-term observational studies indicate a significant improvement.
In a 15-year trial of 470 older men, cocoa was shown to cut heart disease mortality risk by 50 per cent (18Trusted Source).
Another research found that consuming chocolate at least twice per week reduced the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Less chocolate consumption had no impact (19Trusted Source).
Another research found that consuming dark chocolate more than five times per week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%. (20Trusted Source).
In a 2017 clinical study, participants who ingested almonds in combination with or without dark chocolate had lower LDL cholesterol levels (21Trusted Source).
Obviously, these four studies are observational, thus it is unclear if the chocolate lowered the risk or not.
Since the biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidised LDL) is recognised, it is likely that consuming dark chocolate on a regular basis may reduce the risk of heart disease.
May provide UV protection for your skin
Dark chocolate’s bioactive components may also be beneficial for the skin.
The flavanols may protect against UV damage, boost skin density and hydration, and promote blood flow to the skin (22Trusted Source).
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the smallest quantity of UVB rays necessary to elicit skin redness 24 hours after exposure.
In one research of 30 individuals, the MED more than quadrupled after 12 weeks of ingesting dark chocolate rich in flavanols (23Trusted Source).
Consider consuming more dark chocolate in the weeks and months leading up to your beach trip. Consult your physician or dermatologist before abandoning your usual skincare regimen in favour of consuming more dark chocolate.
Could enhance cognitive function
The good news is not yet complete. Dark chocolate may also aid cognitive function.
One research of healthy volunteers revealed that consuming high-flavanol cocoa for five days enhanced cerebral blood flow (24Trusted Source).
Additionally, cocoa may considerably enhance cognitive performance in elderly individuals with minor cognitive impairment. It may also enhance verbal fluency and various disease risk factors (25Trusted Source).
Additionally, cocoa includes stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, which may be a significant factor in its ability to temporarily boost brain function (26Trusted Source).
There is substantial evidence that cocoa has several health advantages, including protection against cardiovascular disease.
Obviously, this does not imply you should drink excessive amounts of chocolate every day. It’s still calorically dense and easy to overeat.
Try to appreciate a piece or two of chocolate after supper. Consider preparing cocoa without milk or sugar if you want the health benefits of cocoa without the calories of chocolate.
Note that a significant amount of chocolate on the market is not healthful.
Choose high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70 per cent cocoa content. Check out this article for information on where to locate the greatest dark chocolate.
Typically, dark chocolates include a minimal quantity of sugar, and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.
Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste great and also has substantial health advantages.
You may purchase dark chocolate at local markets or on the Internet.