10 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

10 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

If you've wanted to get on the dark chocolate train, but the 'bitter' taste puts you off, you might want to reconsider your position. It has loads of health benefits as opposed to regular chocolate- which tastes sweeter due to high sugar content. Read on to find out why you should consider making the switch.

Ensure you get the right chocolate

Many brands have come up with dark chocolate varieties, but they aren't the real deal. Their percentages of real cacao are really low. Healthy dark chocolate has 70 percent or more of real cacao.

Milk chocolate doesn't cut it either since it has two to three times less the amount of cacao as dark chocolate.

To find quality dark chocolate, follow these tips:

  • Avoid Alkalinization: If this word appears in the ingredient list, avoid that choc bar. Alkalinization removes healthy flavonols.
  • 70% Or More Cacao: Cacao beans come from the cacao plant, unlike "cocoa," the powder made from roasted, husked, and ground cacao seeds.
  • Short Ingredient List: The ideal bar has only 3-4 ingredients—like cacao beans, cocoa butter, sugar, and a natural flavoring. 
  • Other Ingredients to Avoid: Hydrogenated oils, Cocoa butter equivalents (CBE), and vegetable oils.

Now let's explore the health benefits of dark chocolate. 

1 REDUCES YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE

Research shows that dark chocolate promotes heart health. In 2007, researchers proved that this type of chocolate increased the diameter of coronary arteries, thus improving blood flow.

A 2009 study found it boosted insulin resistance and blood lipids, indicating that it may also help prevent type 2 diabetes.

2 ANTIOXIDANTS 

Real dark chocolate provides some of the same antioxidants found in red wine, tea, and apples. These nutrients protect our cells from damage from free radicals, which cause premature aging and increase your risk of heart disease and cancer.

3 MAY LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS

High levels of LDL cholesterol can be harmful, since it gathers in the arteries, hardens, and gradually narrows the arteries and increases the risk of blood clots.

Eating dark chocolate may help to reduce your chances of accumulating LDL. A 2012 study found that participants who ate 50 grams of dark chocolate for 15 days had lower LDL levels and higher levels of HDL "good" cholesterol.

4 CONTROLS BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

Most processed snacks spike your blood sugar levels, but not dark chocolate. It has a glycemic index of 23, putting it in the "low glycemic index" category. In contrast, a regular Snickers bar has a rating of 68, while honey is at 87. 

5 CURBS HUNGER

The advantage of dark chocolate as a snack is it satisfies without being too filling, due to its natural ability to suppress appetite.

A 2011 study reported that dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses the urge to eat more.

6 PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN AS YOU AGE

Stats from The Alzheimer's Association indicate that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia. Also, more than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer's.

Dark chocolate's high level of unique flavanols makes it an excellent brain booster. These flavanols can help to improve blood flow to the brain, thus improving cognitive function.

bowl-melted-pieces-chocolate-with-cocoa-beans-powder

7 MOOD BOOSTER 

The natural flavonoids in dark chocolate boost the "good mood" transmitters in the brain and raise brain levels of endorphins. Next time you feel low, reach for a bar of dark chocolate instead of a bag of chips.

8 SUN PROTECTION 

In 2006, researchers found that long-term consumption of cocoa powder helped the skin better shield itself from dangerous UV rays, and improved the skin's density and hydration. A 2009 study showed that participants who ate 20 grams of dark chocolate daily increased their skin's ability to protect itself from UV damage.

9 MAY HELP BATTLE BELLY FAT

Dark chocolate won't instantly melt away belly fat, but it might help you lose weight around your waist.

A study done in 2013 found that people who ate dark chocolate more frequently had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did it less often. In the same year, another study strictly on women with excessive body fat found that those who ate dark chocolate containing at least 70 percent cocoa for seven days reduced their waist circumference noticeably.

10 MAINTAINS EYE HEALTH

If you use the computer for long hours every day, you're familiar with the excess tearing, headaches, dry eyes, and blurry vision.

A 2011 study reported that consuming dark chocolate may temporarily improve visual function. Participants who ate dark chocolate had improved visual sensitivity by up to two hours.

With love,

​The Sole Toscana Beauty Team