Dark chocolate is one of the world’s favorite foods. It’s a reliable go-to comfort food during times of stress, when we’re feeling down, or even when you’re feeling romantic.
It’s also one of the most searched terms on Lose Weight by Eating and something I personally enjoy from time to time.
But… is dark chocolate good for you?
I decided to get the facts about dark chocolate and find out what the real health benefits of chocolate are. (Spoiler alert, it IS good for you!)
What Is Chocolate?
Chocolate is made from seeds of a cocoa tree, or cocoa beans. The beans grow in pods which contain about 40 cocoa beans per cocoa pod. Each year, one cocoa tree produces enough cocoa to make about 400-800 bars of chocolate.
There are two types of chocolate: Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate. They are both made in similar ways, except with milk chocolate condensed milk or milk solids are added.
White Chocolate is not considered chocolate at all since it contains no cocoa or real health benefits… not that I don’t have some in my pantry right now far baking… but I digress, back to the real chocolate.
Of the two type types of chocolate, milk or dark, there’s only one healthy chocolate – dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains less cocoa and too much fat, sugar and calories to be beneficial to your health.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, once considered a rare treat, has now become a mainstream snack for healthy eaters and is often found at the checkout counter in Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Amazon, and other specialty retailers like Thrive Market. The rise in popularity is thanks to the many health benefits: It’s good for the heart, blood circulation and brain function, skin, boosts your mood, and more.
Obviously, if you eat tons you won’t be doing any good for your health, but in moderation it can have some positive health benefits.
Here are 6 amazing health benefits of dark chocolate:
Dark Chocolate Is A Great Source Of Antioxidants
There are organic compounds in dark chocolate that function as antioxidants. Antioxidants prohibit nasty chemicals called “free radicals” (which you take in from breathing oxygen) from damaging your body.
One study showed that cocoa contained more antioxidants than other fruits they tested, including some antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries and Acai berries!
Dark Chocolate Is Nutritious
Good dark chocolate (the kind with a high cocoa content) can contain a nutritious amount of fiber and minerals. A typical 100 gram (3 ½ oz) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the recommended daily allowance for Iron.
- 89% of the recommended daily allowance for Copper.
- 98% of the recommended daily allowance for Manganese.
- 58% of the recommended daily allowance for Magnesium.
- It also contains lots of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Be aware that 3 ½ ounces is a lot of chocolate and contains over 600 calories and a lot of fat and sugar, so moderation is very important here. The fats are even not that bad for you since they are mainly saturated and monounsaturated, with low amounts of polyunsaturates.
Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Circulation
There is a substance that makes dark chocolate good for you called flavanols. Cocoa flavanols are the plant-based nutrients found naturally in cocoa which help keep platelets less sticky, decreasing your risk for heart attack or stroke from a clot.
Dark chocolate relaxes blood vessels, which help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular function.
A higher percentage of cacao (cocoa) means a higher amount of flavanols, and the better it is for your health.
Dark Chocolate May Lower Cholesterol and The Risk of Heart Disease or Stroke
Studies have shown that the flavanols in dark chocolate help significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. They keep platelets less sticky, decreasing your risk for heart attack or stroke from a clot.
Dark Chocolate Can Be Good For Your Skin
The flavanols in dark chocolate can help your skin look its best. The antioxidants in flavanol help your skin protect itself from UV damage, fight free radicals,and increase blood flow resulting in less wrinkles and a healthier glow.
Flavanols in dark chocolate have even been found to improve skin hydration and thickness – both important for healthy looking skin… Yes, it will make you pretty… you know you love me now!
Dark Chocolate May Make You Smarter
Research suggests chocolate may boost your memory, reaction time, attention span, and problem solving abilities by increasing blood flow to your brain. So the next time you need to take a test, have some for an extra brain boost!
There is a lot of evidence supporting the health benefits of cocoa. From the significant benefits it provides to cardiovascular health, to the way it makes your skin glow, all while tasting incredible, makes cocoa a possible “super fruit”.
But all chocolate should always be consumed in moderation, and as a sometimes treat.
It’s important to purchase the best dark chocolate you can find. The majority of chocolate on the market is garbage, with very little nutritional value, so always look for the quality stuff with more that 70% cocoa. A lot of places now offer organic dark chocolate, which is even better for you since it reduces that possibilities of eating bad chemicals.
So go ahead and allow yourself a little everyday, I do and it helps curb sweet cravings, and like we’ve highlighted above it makes you prettier, smarter, healthier… and in my case much less likely to raid the leftover holiday candy in the back of the pantry!