We all love treating ourselves, don’t we? Especially with chocolates! They come in many varieties and can be used in lots of different ways to give us a tasty treat. Some of us are fond of milky bars while others love to have flavored chocolates. Some even prefer the smooth buttery taste of white chocolate.
Some of us also like dark chocolates because of the great, rich taste. But little do we know that dark chocolates offer some amazing health benefits too.
You’re probably already craving to know more. I know I am! So let’s go find out what benefits dark chocolate has.
High in Antioxidants
ORAC, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a measure of the level of antioxidants in foods. The levels are measured by researchers observing how free radicals react to a sample of food, and how well the food’s antioxidants can neutralize them.
A study showed that dark chocolate contains more antioxidant activity than even blueberries, acai berries, and other fruits. This is because dark chocolate is loaded with compounds that are active and function as antioxidants.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
The compounds in dark chocolate help to stop LDL (bad cholesterol) from reacting with free radicals and oxidizing. It also helps to lower oxidized LDL levels, which prevents further damage to body tissues, including your arteries.
The powerful antioxidants get into your bloodstream to help stop the oxidative damage.
A study showed that those who ate dark chocolate 2 or more times a week had the risk of having calcified plaque in their arteries reduced by 32%.
Eating it less had no effect, so don’t deny yourself that extra piece!
Helps Improve Brain Function
Dark chocolate also helps to increase blood flow to the brain.The cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to significantly improve cognitive function in the elderly, which can help them when they’re suffering from mental impairment.
It also contains stimulants like caffeine, which is a key element in enhancing short-term brain function. So if you need a quick mental boost, grab some dark chocolate!
Protection Against Diabetes
Researchers have found that in hypertensive diabetics, dark chocolate brings down blood pressure and fasting blood sugar. The higher the cocoa content the better to get the most benefits.
A higher cocoa content means lower sugar content. Dark chocolate is low GI (or has a low glycemic index), which means blood sugar levels don’t spike as highly or rapidly. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable, which is important for diabetics. Dark chocolate also helps in keeping your circulatory system clear, and your blood vessels healthy. This promotes protection against type 2 diabetes.
High in Minerals and Vitamins
Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, iron, potassium, and copper. These vitamins and minerals are important for improving and maintaining your overall health.
Cardiovascular and brain function gets a boost because of the presence of copper and potassium in dark chocolate.
A rich source of iron, dark chocolate can also prevent iron deficiency (anemia). Magnesium is beneficial towards high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Dark chocolate also contains significant amounts of manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc, which all play a vital role in your health. Who knew dark chocolate contained so many beneficial vitamins and minerals?
Studies have shown the flavonols from cocoa can help increase the number of UVB rays that your skin can withstand before turning red. This means you have longer exposure before your skin gets sunburnt!
The minimal erythemal dose (or MED) is used to test this, because it shows the number of UVB rays that cause redness, 24 hours after exposure.
A 12-week study conducted on 30 people showed that their MED doubled after consuming dark chocolate.
The flavonols also increase blood flow to your skin and improve your skin’s density and hydration. Do your skin a favor and eat some dark chocolate today!
From protecting your skin against sun damage to helping lower cholesterol, there are so many things that dark chocolate can do for you.
Now that we know how good it is, let me share a few tips to enjoy it to the maximum and get the most benefits possible:
- Always ensure that you are picking the best quality chocolate. You can’t just afford to buy the cheapest at the supermarket and expect to have the best of flavors & benefits.
- Be aware of how much you consume. Don’t overeat. A dark chocolate still contains a lot of calories. Eating too much isn’t going to help you the way it would otherwise.
- How about pairing it with other stuff? Try adding fruits like berries and nuts to increase its nutritional value. At the same, it makes it amazingly delicious. People absolutely love recipes including chocolate, wine, and cheese. Use those three things for your next party, and show your guests how amazing they are. Impress them with your knowledge of dark chocolate and its benefits!
As more and more studies are done, we’ll find out what else dark chocolate can do to benefit us and our bodies.
Dark chocolate can be made into many different desserts as well, so there’s a way to enjoy it to suit everyone. From cakes to hot chocolate, you can create a variety of treats to share with family and friends. Or to eat on your own!
Being able to enjoy a sweet treat that does something good for us is definitely good news! Eating some chocolate doesn’t have to mean you’ve broken your diet because it helps your body in many amazing ways. Don’t feel guilty indulging, unless of course, you overindulge! You don’t want to outweigh the benefits by eating too much.
Any excuse to eat some chocolate is a good one, now we know! So next time you want something sweet, reach for some good quality dark chocolate and do your body a delicious favor!