When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better and for maximum health benefits you should opt for no less than 70% cocoa.
Chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree, one of the best sources of anti-oxidants on the planet.
Here are some great reasons to include moderate amounts of chocolate in your diet:
1, Chocolate Makes You Happy
Chocolate contains certain compounds that promote happiness and wellbeing:
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in small quantities in chocolate and is used by the brain to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that can produce feelings of happiness.
Phenylethylalanine promotes feelings of attraction, excitement and nervousness and is associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It has also been isolated in chocolate. This chemical also acts as an anti-depressant by combining with dopamine that is naturally present in the brain.
Theobromine is a weak stimulant that works alongside caffeine to produce the characteristic ‘high’ that many people experience after getting their chocolate fix. Scientists at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego suggest that chocolate contains substances that produce a cannabis-like effect on the brain. But you would have to ingest more than 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to get ‘high’ in the same way, which is not the best of ideas.
2. Dark Chocolate May Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have found the bioactive compounds in cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a significant decrease in blood pressure
3. Dark Chocolate is a Potent Source of Antioxidants
Unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods for antioxidants that have been tested.
Dark chocolate is full of biologically active organic compounds that function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins.
4. Dark Chocolate May Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. Observational studies have shown a major reduction in heart disease for those who eat the most dark chocolate.
Cocoa is good for your heart because of fermentation by gut bacteria, creating anti-inflammatory compounds that improve blood vessel function
5. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation
In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL and oxidative damage whilst increasing HDL and improves insulin sensitivity
6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin
Studies show the flavanols in cocoa can improve the blood circulation, which can help protect against sun damage, and improve hydration in the skin.
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin’s condition and youthful appearance.
7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function
One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain and thus improved brain function.
Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease
8. Dark Chocolate Helps Control Blood Sugar
Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently.
9. Dark Chocolate is Nutritious
Quality dark chocolate is high in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, magnese and other minerals
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber.
- 67% of the RDA for Iron.
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
- 89% of the RDA for Copper.
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.