7 Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Not only is dark chocolate a guilty pleasure it comes with many incredible health benefits as well. We are talking real dark chocolate – 60% Cocao or higher- and its loaded with amazing amount of nutrients and antioxidants. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet.
Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals.
Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested including blueberries.
Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide which sends signals to the arteries to relax. This lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.
Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.
Dark Chocolate May Lower the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
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 and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term. And Good News! It appears that more is better. Many observational studies show a dramatic reduction in heart disease risk for the people who consume the most chocolate.
Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against the Sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. Flavanols in dark chocolate can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function
The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment.
The Bottom Line:
There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.