Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?
Could we really live the dream, is chocolate really good for you? Or are we just kidding ourselves into guilt-free splurges?
Dark chocolate is said to be better for you than milk or white as it's lower in sugar and carbs as well as having a higher percentage of cocoa, which is where it gets most of its benefits, but can it really improve your health, or is it just a less guilty snack?
10 Reasons Dark Chocolate Is Healthy
1. Dark chocolate contains multiple nutrients. A 100g bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains on average:
- 11g of fibre.
- 67% of the recommended daily allowance for Iron.
- 58% of the recommended daily allowance for Magnesium.
- 89% of the recommended daily allowance for Copper.
- 98% of the recommended daily allowance for Manganese.
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
2. Dark chocolate is a good source of fat. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. Eating fat enables the body to burn fat for energy, rather than gain fat.
3. Dark chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine which can give you a little pick me up throughout the day.
4. Cocoa beans are one of the highest scoring foods ever tested by ORAC. ORAC, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, tests how foods react with potential harmful free radicals and gives them a score as an antioxidant. A study by the Chemistry Central Journal found that cocoa powder made from cacao extract contained more antioxidants than acai, blueberries and cranberries, famed for their antioxidant abilities.
5. Dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the lining of the arteries to produce nitric oxide (NO). Nitric Oxide sends signals telling the arteries to relax, lowering resistance to blood flow and therefore reducing blood pressure. Research in The Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that including small amounts of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate as part of a usual diet efficiently reduced BP and improved formation of nitric oxide in the control group.
6. Dark chocolate decreases the risk of Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can lead to a slowed metabolism, weight gain and diabetes.
7. Dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease. LDL (bad) cholesterol causes heart disease, dark chocolate is thought to protect from high levels of LDL. In a study of 470 elderly men by The Archives of Internal Medicine, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by 50% over a 15 year period. Being an observational study means it could be another external factor which caused this effect, however surely it's significant enough results to try it.
8. Dark chocolate may protect from skin damage from the sun. The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
9. Dark chocolate may improve brain function. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve brain function due to its stimulation of increased blood flow.
10. Dark chocolate may lower cortisol. Being high in antioxidants, dark chocolate effectively reduces oxidative stress inside the body which in theory should lead to lower levels of cortisol. Research by The Journal of Proteome found that dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines and partially normalised stress-related differences in energy metabolism after daily consumption of 40g of dark chocolate for 2 weeks.As with everything, moderation is key, so eating vast amounts of chocolate is never healthy. However, in moderation, dark chocolate can be good for you! Remember, it's high-quality chocolate which has this affect, your regular milk chocolate won’t cut it. Look for chocolate with as high a cocoa percentage as possible, ideally 70%+ and try to stay organic whenever possible.