Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients that can positively impact your well-being.
It is made from the seeds of the cacao plant. It’s among the most potent sources of antioxidants you’ll get your hands on.
Research has shown that dark chocolate can boost your health and reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease.
Here are seven health benefits of dark chocolate or cocoa, backed by scientific research.
If you purchase high-quality dark chocolate with high cocoa content, it’s very nutritious.
It has a significant amount of soluble fibre and is packed with minerals.
100 grams of dark chocolate that contains 70%-85% cocoa is made up of:
- 11 grams of fibre
- 67% of the DV for iron
- 58% of the DV for magnesium
- 89% of the DV for copper
- 98% of the DV for manganese
- In addition, it has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is quite a substantial amount and certainly not something you should take in every day. The nutrients are also packed with 600 calories and moderate quantities of sugar.
This is why dark chocolate should be consumed in moderate amounts.
The composition of the fatty acids in dark and cocoa is also very good. The fats comprise mainly Oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also present in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
Stearic acid has neutral effects on cholesterol levels in the body. Palmitic acid may raise cholesterol levels. However, it is only one-third of all calories from fat.
Dark chocolate is also a source of stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine. However, it’s not likely to be able to make you sleepy at midnight since its caffeine content in it is extremely low compared to coffee.
A potent source of antioxidants
ORAC is an acronym for the acronym oxygen radical absorption capacity. It’s a measurement of the antioxidant capacity of food items.
In essence, researchers place an array of free radicals (bad) against an example of food to see how the antioxidants present in the food will neutralize the free radicals.
The biological significance of ORAC values is in doubt because it’s measured in the test tube and could not be the same in the human body.
However, it’s worth noting that cocoa beans are unprocessed, raw and unprocessed. Beans have been identified as one of the most highly-rated food items examined.
Dark chocolate is a rich source of organic substances with biological activity and serves as antioxidants. These include flavanols, polyphenols and catechins, to name a few.
One study revealed that dark and cocoa were more antioxidant-rich in the form of polyphenols, flavanols and polyphenols than other fruits, including blueberries and Acai berries.
It Might increase blood flow and lower blood pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium, which is the inner lining of the arteries, to create nitric oxide (NO).
One of the purposes of NO is sending signals to the arterial arteries that cause them to relax, which reduces the blood flow resistance and consequently lowers blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies have shown that dark chocolate and cocoa can boost blood flow and decrease blood pressure, but the effects are typically mild.
But, one study of patients who have high blood pressure found no difference, so treat this study with a grain of salt.
Due to the vast differences between studies on this topic, it’s obvious that further research is required.
Increases HDL and shields LDL from Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can help improve the important risk factors for heart disease.
In a study that was controlled in a controlled study, cocoa powder was discovered to reduce the amount of oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol among males significantly. It also improved HDL and decreased total LDL levels for people with high cholesterol.
Oxidized LDL signifies this means that LDL cholesterol has interacted against free radicals.
This renders the LDL particle vulnerable and susceptible to damaging other tissues, for instance, the inner lining of the arteries inside the heart.
Logically, cocoa can reduce oxidized LDL. It’s a great source of powerful antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and help protect lipoproteins from damages caused by oxidation.
Dark chocolate’s flavanols can lower insulin resistance, which is a known risk factor for illnesses like heart disease and diabetes.
But dark chocolate has sugar, which could cause the opposite effects.
It Might reduce the risk of heart disease
The chocolate’s compounds appear to have a strong protective effect against the oxidation process of LDL.
In the longer term, it will cause less cholesterol to build up within the blood vessels, which will result in a reduced risk of developing heart disease.
Several long-term studies of observation show an impressively dramatic improvement.
In the study of 470 elderly males, cocoa decreased the chance of dying of heart-related disease by 50% in 15 years.
Another study found that having chocolate more than two times a week decreased the chance of developing plaque calcified in blood vessels by about 32%. Consuming less chocolate more often was not a factor in reducing the risk.
Another study also showed that having dark chocolate at least five times per week decreased the risk of developing heart disease by 57%.
A clinical study conducted in 2017 discovered that those who ate almonds, either with or without dark chocolate, had higher LDL cholesterol levels.
Of course, the four studies are observational, and we don’t know whether it was the chocolate that decreased the risk.
However, because the biological mechanism is understood (lower blood pressure and the oxidation of LDL), It’s possible that consuming dark chocolate regularly can lower the risk of heart disease.
Your skin can be protected from the sun’s rays
The bioactive components in dark chocolate can benefit your skin.
Flavanols are a natural defence against sun-induced damage, increase blood flow to the skin and improve the skin’s density and hydration.
Minimum erythemal dosage (MED) can be defined as the smallest amount of UVB radiation needed to cause redness to the skin within 24 hours of exposure.
In a study of 30 individuals in a study of 30 people, the MED increased by more than a third when they consumed dark chocolate rich in flavanols over 12 weeks.
If you’re planning a trip to the beach, you might want to consider consuming some dark chocolate during the preceding months and weeks. However, consult your physician or dermatologist before putting off your usual regimen for skincare to indulge in additional dark chocolate.
Can improve brain function
The good news isn’t finished just yet. Dark chocolate could also help improve the brain’s function.
A study on healthy volunteers found that consumption of high flavanol cocoa over five days increased the flow of blood to the brain.
Cocoa could also enhance cognitive performance in individuals with mild cognitive impairment. It could improve fluency in speech and a variety of risk factors for developing the disease.
In addition, cocoa is a source of stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, which could be a major reason for its ability to improve brain functioning in the short term.