When you think of chocolate you probably think of sugar, breakouts, and candy. It’s most commonly categorized as unhealthy food and people recommend you avoid it. Did you know however that dark chocolate actually has some great health benefits? I was surprised to hear this as well, but very happy about it since I love dark chocolate. Dark chocolate can help with blood flow, insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity, lowering chronic inflammation and high cholesterol, and many other health issues. Keep reading to learn how healthy eating small amounts of dark chocolate can be and is dark chocolate healthy for you.
Is Dark Chocolate Healthy For You?
You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that dark chocolate in certain forms is a hearty-healthy treat for your body. When it isn’t loaded with sugar and saturated fat, it can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Dark chocolate in it’s purest form is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Like anything else, moderation is important. Dark chocolate is still full of calories and may cause weight gain if you eat large quantities. Add small amounts into an already well-balanced diet and you will see benefits.
What Is The Healthiest Form Of Dark Chocolate?
While choosing which type of dark chocolate to incorporate into your diet, choose bittersweet dark chocolate varieties. Chocolates with 70 percent of the chocolate made from cocoa beans are the best dark chocolate to buy. Bittersweet chocolate usually ranges from 65 to 80 percent cocoa percentage. This makes it extremely healthy compared to milk chocolate, white chocolate, and sweetened dark chocolates.
Unsweetened dark chocolate will contain 100 percent cocoa solids, giving it a very bitter taste. It’s almost unbearable to eat without the sweeteners. Depending on your tolerance, purchase bittersweet or unsweetened dark chocolate with a small amount of added sugar to make it enjoyable to eat. Be sure to check the ingredient list on the packaging before buying.
How Much Dark Chocolate Should You Eat A Day?
Before you go racing to the baking aisle for all the chocolate, keep in mind that everything in moderation is alright. Just because dark chocolate is heart-healthy, doesn’t mean you should eat it with every meal. As I stated above, it is still high in calories and contains saturated fats (that’s where the sweetness comes from). It is recommended that you only consume no more than 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day if you are choosing to add it to your diet.
Is Dark Chocolate Good For You Every Day?
Dark chocolate contains plant chemicals (from the cocoa bean) that act as antioxidants and may help prevent many diseases and improve heart health. While many of these studies are uncertain, it can’t hurt to eat a piece of dark chocolate every day. Read more about the Cocoa Bean and its benefits in the form of dark chocolate here.
7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
There are several wonderful benefits to eating dark chocolate regularly. Some of these benefits help in reducing high blood pressure, brain function, decreasing risk of diabetes, and have an overall positive effect on the body.
1. Dark chocolate may improve heart health
According to an article by Sophia Antipolis in 2020, “eating chocolate at least once a week is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.” It is suggested that the flavonoids in dark chocolate are the factor that helps in maintaining or strengthening heart health. Flavonoids are chemicals that produce nitric acid in the blood vessels and help them relax. In turn, your blood pressure goes down.
2. Dark chocolate can improve cognition and mood
There is research that suggest that dark chocolate can affect the brain in a positive way. It effects the neural pathways and stimulates activity in the brain. More neural activity will increase cognitive function, memory, and even your mood. Choose dark chocolates with 70 percent or more cocoa beans in them for best results.
3. Dark chocolate may improve blood sugar levels
One thing to note about this point is that it depends on your overall diet. If you are eating unhealthy foods, dark chocolate isn’t going to do much. In conjunction with a healthy diet, dark chocolate can help the body metabolize glucose you are consuming. In turn, your body’s sensitivity to insulin is improved and your risk of blood sugar diabetes is reduced. Seems counterintuitive, but as long as you consume dark chocolate high in cocoa and low in fat, it could be helpful.
4. Dark chocolate may fight free radicals that cause cancer
Antioxidants are helpful in protecting our bodies from free radicals which cause damage to our cells. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that are thought to cause aging and disease. Any time we can reduce those free radicals, it’s worth a shot. Eating a diet full of flavonoids may help prevent the production of free radicals and therefore prevent cancer. Since dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, eat up!
5. Dark chocolate is good for your skin
Dark chocolate is full of nutrients like iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Those are just some of the nutrients, too! These nutrients are great for your skin and help your body produce collagen. Collagen is what makes our skin healthy, happy, and looking young.
6. Dark chocolate can regulate your cholesterol
Dark chocolate is often said to help lower cholesterol in the body. A study published in November of 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association explains that almonds, dark chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa aided in a pretty big drop in weight among participants. Cocoa butter also contains monounsaturated fats that are deemed heart-healthy and help with cholesterol levels.
7. Dark chocolate is gut healthy
It may seem odd to eat dark chocolate to improve your gut and lose weight, but dark chocolate has been thought to curb hunger. Eating dark chocolate before or after a meal is a great way to trick your brain into being full so you don’t eat more than necessary. Chocolate also serves as a prebiotic (not a probiotic) that encourages healthy bacteria in the gut. It’s a good nutrient that helps produce more good microbes in your body’s system.
Do you understand now, is dark chocolate healthy for you? Dark chocolate is certainly not a bad thing to add to your diet because of its potential benefits. Many of the studies done note that they need a larger population to see more effects, but overall eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day or once a week won’t harm you. Dark chocolate consumption can aid in the improvement of antioxidant activity, lower risk of heart disease, weight loss, good cholesterol, and other beneficial effects. Eat a healthy amount of dark chocolate with higher cocoa content and see how your overall health is affected. Be sure to check the ingredients and make sure there isn’t too much sugar added.
Curious about the benefits of other foods?
You may also like What is Cacao Powder?
Get your FREE healthy lifestyle checklist. Make healthy living a habit!