Eating chocolate is something that almost no one can resist. So, what if we tell you that it is not just a guilty pleasure but there are actual health benefits of dark chocolate!
Chocolate is made from cacao plants which contain high levels of minerals and antioxidants. Dark chocolate range from healthy skin to energized mood. To get the advantages of dark chocolate, it needs to contain 70% or more cocoa content. The darker the chocolate, the more possible health benefits you are getting.
Dark Chocolate Nutritional Facts
Being a rich source of fiber, protein, and minerals, dark chocolate is a great addition to your diet. Every 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate with 70% to 85% cacao solids contains,
|Nutriton Every 1-ounce||Dark Chocolate Nutritional Value|
|Dark Chocolate Calories||170 kcal|
Dark chocolate contains an ample amount of zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, and calcium. So, consuming an ounce per day is enough to get the nutrition of dark chocolate for your health. To get the most flavanols from chocolate, it needs to be 70% or more dark.
Stimulants like caffeine and theobromine are also present in dark chocolate. But as the amount of caffeine is very small, there’s a very slight chance that it will keep you awake at night.
7 Dark Chocolate Benefits
Due to the presence of health-beneficial nutrients, dark chocolate is good for skin, heart, as well as weight loss, and memory improvement. Here are a few benefits to include in your diet.
1. Source of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is a good source of several antioxidant compounds such as flavonols and polyphenols. These compounds help in neutralizing free radicals and prevent oxidative stress in the body. By preventing oxidative stress, it lowers the chances of damages made by free radicals.
The advantage of Dark Chocolate is the body works as an anti-inflammatory agent as well. Therefore, it reduces the risk of chronic inflammation and protects the cells and tissues from serious damage.
2. Keeps Cholesterol Level in Check
Dark chocolate is now known as a cholesterol-lowering food. The polyphenols and theobromine present in dark chocolate can bring a significant drop in the presence of Low-density Lipoproteins or LDL, commonly known as ‘bad cholesterol.
High amounts of LDL can cause serious damage to your body by clogging arteries. Subsequently, it increases the amount of High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure
The presence of flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate nitric oxide production in the human body. Nitric oxide can make the blood vessels dilate or widen.
Moderate servings of dark chocolate are enough for increasing blood vessel flexibility and easing stiffness in arteries. So, it promotes better blood flow in the body and lowers blood pressure. The antihypertensive properties of dark chocolate are actually responsible for regulating blood pressure.
4. Prevents the Risk of Heart Diseases
One of the most important health benefits is its function in keeping the heart healthy. By regulating blood pressure and cholesterol level in the body, dark chocolate prevents the risk of severe heart diseases.
It also prevents the oxidation of HDL and reduces the amount of cholesterol to lodge in the arteries. Dark chocolate also offers antithrombotic effects to prevent blood clots.
5. Advances in Memory and Brain Function
Having dark chocolate in moderate amounts can improve brain function. It is also helpful in preventing neurodegenerative conditions, namely Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
High-quality, cacao-dense dark chocolate improves several brain functions including cognitive processing, visual-spatial awareness, scanning, abstract reasoning, etc.
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The presence of flavanols in dark chocolate can improve neuroplasticity as well. It is known as the ability of the brain to reorganize itself when encountered with injuries and diseases.
6. Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Skin
Dark chocolate is loaded with minerals including copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc. The presence of these minerals makes dark chocolate a good choice for your skin. While manganese improves the production of collagen, calcium repairs the skin. Better production of collagen protein helps in keeping the skin healthy.
On the other hand, the flavanols in dark chocolate can offer protection to the skin against sun damage. It ensures better blood flow to the skin and promotes skin density and hydration as well.
7. Aids Against Diabetes
While eating chocolate every day is never a good idea to prevent diabetes, eating dark chocolate in the right amount can definitely provide aids against it.
The rich cacao can improve the way the human body metabolizes glucose. Type 2 diabetes is caused by Insulin resistance that results in high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Dark chocolate is good for you as it can help in reducing fasting glucose levels and insulin resistance.
8. Healps to Boosts Mood
One of the most known benefits of eating dark chocolate is boosting mood. Dark chocolate contains theobromine which is structurally very similar to caffeine. When consumed in a larger quantity, theobromine can cause a dip in blood pressure. Therefore it promotes excitability and boosts energy.
Similar to THC, anandamide is another compound in dark chocolate that also provides a mood and energy boost.
7. Dark Chocolate for Weight Loss
Is dark chocolate good for weight loss? Well, it is. Having dark chocolate regularly may play a role in managing your appetite.
Having a little amount of dark chocolate before or after meals can activate hormones. These hormones send signals to the brain that you are full. Controlling your appetite and craving helps in portion control and therefore weight management.
Dark Chocolate Uses
You can get the most of chocolate when it is 70% or more dark. The better the quality of dark chocolate, the more bitter it tastes. So, while using dark chocolate in any dish, one needs to be careful.
Uses of dark chocolate can be seen in cookies, candy bars, cakes and pastries, ice creams, puddings, hot drinks like hot chocolate, etc. But the benefits of eating dark chocolate are more in its real form than using it in cooking any other dishes.
Baking with dark chocolate is a little tricky. It is essential to heat the chocolate slowly over low heat or at around 50% power in the microwave to prevent any kind of scorching.
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As they say, everything comes with its own good and bad. Dark chocolate is no exception. If your intake is controlled and right, then you will be showered with the health advantages of dark chocolate.
Side Effects of Dark Chocolate
Although dark chocolate is full of health beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and minerals, it also comes with some risk factors. The disadvantages of dark chocolates are,
High calories and Unhealthy Fats
Dark chocolate is high in calories, and fat. The cocoa butter present in dark chocolate is loaded with unhealthy saturated fats.
Presence of Sugar
Despite having less sugar content than milk and white chocolate, dark chocolate contains a good amount of sugar. So, limit the chocolate intake and opt for dark chocolate with higher percentages of cacao solids.
Two ounces of 70% dark chocolate offers around 50 to 60 milligrams of caffeine. It means, two ounces of dark chocolate has roughly 50% of caffeine an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains. So, watch out for your caffeine intake while eating dark chocolates.