Dark chocolate is a delicious dessert or snack, but unlike most other sweets, it actually has some great dark chocolate benefits for your health.
In comparison with milk chocolate, which is highly sweetened and processed, dark chocolate has a higher amount of the raw cacao, which gives it a more bitter flavor and is less processed, putting it closer to raw food than candy.
If you’re looking to make a healthier choice when you’re consuming sweets, here are seven reasons dark chocolate might be the just the ticket.
1. It Can Improve the Health of Your Heart
Flavonoids are plant pigments that have striking effects on human health, and dark chocolate is chock full of flavanols, some of the healthiest flavonoids.
Flavonoids are plant pigments that uniquely affect human beings. Among other things, the flavanols in dark chocolate lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart, and reduce the risk of blood clot and stroke by making blood platelets less adhesive to each other.
2. It’s Packed with Nutrients
Cacao-rich dark chocolate has far more nutrients than milk chocolate. A bar of dark chocolate has over half the recommended daily values for iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese, as well as substantial amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
It’s also a source of fiber, as a 100-gram bar of 70-85% cacao chocolate has 11 grams of fiber, helping with digestion.
3. It Makes Your Mind Sharper
Dark chocolate’s flavonoids help blood move to your brain, improving your mental functioning. It’s been shown to be beneficial for people experiencing reduced cerebral circulation, like sufferers of dementia or stroke.
Particularly for elderly people, dark chocolate and other flavonoid-rich substances cause a demonstrable improvement in cognitive functioning across multiple areas.
4. It’s A Natural Antioxidant
Antioxidants help disarm dangerous free radicals in your body, and raw cocoa beans have been tested to have some of the highest antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate is filled with organic compounds that actively combat free radicals, including polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. Dark chocolate actually scores higher in antioxidant tests than other famed “superfoods” like acai berries.
5. It Can Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage
Although you should still use sunscreen when you hit the beach, dark chocolate provides an extra layer of protection.
It improves blood flow to your epidermis and increases the toughness and hydration of your skin. A study showed that people who ate dark chocolate for 12 weeks were half as vulnerable to sunburns.
6. It Can Improve Your Eyesight
The increased blood flow to the brain caused by flavanols has effects on the performance of your eyes, as well, sending more blood to your retinas. A study found that eating high-cacao chocolate made participants better at detecting motion and reading low-contrast letters, both important measures of ocular performance.
7. It Improves Your Cholesterol Profile
Dark chocolate is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that’s good for your heart. It also includes other, less healthy acids, the negative impact on cholesterol has been found to be minimal. In fact, studies have found the polyphenols in cocoa can actually help control bad cholesterol.
Consuming dark chocolate rich in these chemicals was showed to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
It’s tough to find sweet foods that won’t damage your health, and even tougher to find those that are actually good for you. Dark chocolate is a culinary unicorn, a food that’s as delicious as it is healthful.
It’s still high in calories, so practice moderation, but substituting dark for milk chocolate can be a big dietary improvement.