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7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is not typically associated with healthy snack foods. However, a small portion of dark chocolate has been proven to provide some interesting health benefits.
The higher the percentage of cocoa you’re consuming determines how much you can benefit from your chosen brand of dark chocolate. For example, if you’re eating dark chocolate made with 80% cocoa, you’re consuming more benefits than dark chocolate that only has 40% cocoa. This is because the 40% dark chocolate has a higher percentage of unhealthy ingredients such as milk and sugar, and less nutrients such as flavanols.
Here are 7 health benefits of dark chocolate.
- Nutrients. Dark chocolate contains many essential nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. A dark chocolate bar with 70-85% cocoa contains 98% of the recommended daily amount of manganese and 89% of the daily value for copper.2
- Healthy blood flow and heart. Flavanols are a type of flavonoid found in cocoa trees. Flavanols are usually found in plants and produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Healthy blood flow can lower your blood pressure and protect you against conditions such as heart disease.1
- Lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and theobromine, both of which can lower LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol, which is known as the “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease, while HDL cholesterol helps your body absorb and get rid of LDL cholesterol.3
- Boost mood. Some studies indicate that dark chocolate stimulates neural activity in the brain associated with pleasure, which can improve your mood. If you snack on dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa, 70% or up, you can potentially decrease stress levels.4
- Improve brain function. Many studies link the flavanols in dark chocolate to neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to recognize itself. This may improve brain function and prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s.3
- Protect the skin. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can reflect harmful UV rays off the skin, which helps to protect you against sun damage. The flavanols found in dark chocolate can also increase hydration and skin density.5
- Improve blood sugar levels. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can reduce oxidative stress, which is thought to be the main cause of insulin resistance. By improving sensitivity to insulin and having that resistance reduced, your risk of diabetes may decrease.4
Ways to Enjoy Dark Chocolate
An ounce or two of dark chocolate a day is enough to get the health benefits from the flavanols. If you consume more than that, you risk negating the health benefits with the additional fat and calories.7
- Melt dark chocolate and dip strawberries or cherries into it
- Melt dark chocolate and dip bananas in it, then freeze it for a dessert to enjoy later
- Blend unprocessed cocoa with a frozen banana for a dairy-free ice cream
- Drizzle melted dark chocolate over popcorn
- Make hot chocolate with dark chocolate
- Use dark chocolate when baking
- Swap milk chocolate out for dark chocolate whenever possible
Try Dark Chocolate Today
If you’re looking for a sweet treat that can benefit your diet, try dark chocolate today! Dark chocolate, when consumed in small portions, can improve your heart, brain, and skin health.
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Dark Chocolate Health Benefits.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. March 10th, 2022. Accessed May 9th, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-chocolate-health-benefits/.
- Gunnars, Kris. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. July 27th, 2021. Accessed May 9th, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate.
- Eske, Jamie. “What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?” Healthline Media, Medical News Today. April 13th, 2022. Accessed May 11th, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dark-chocolate.
- Brooks, Anna. “8 Healthy Reasons to Eat Dark Chocolate.” Everyday Health, everydayhealth.com. January 31st, 2022. Accessed May 11th, 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/delicious-reasons-to-eat-dark-chocolate.aspx.
- Rathod, Kalwyna. “Dark chocolate benefits for skin, hair, and health.” Worldwide Media, Femina. October 5th, 2018. Accessed May 17th, 2022. https://www.femina.in/wellness/health/dark-chocolate-benefits-for-health-106835.html#:~:text=According%20to%20research%2C%20eating%20dark,and%20conditions%20like%20skin%20cancer.
- “Dark Chocolate.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College, harvard.edu. Accessed May 11th, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/.
- “Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” WebMD, webmd.com. Accessed May 11th, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-dark-chocolate#2.
- Zigman, Laura. “5 Ways to Eat More Dark Chocolate (you’re welcome).” Happier Inc, happier.com. Accessed May 11th, 2022. https://www.happier.com/blog/dark-chocolate-health-benefits-5-ways-to-eat-more-dark-chocolate/.