Eat Chocolate – 5 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Author: Margot Rutigliano Whatley
Chocolate lovers get ready to celebrate! I love chocolate. And I love the really good stuff – the kind that has cacao or cacao nibs and is a true superfood. If you love dark chocolate, there are some great health benefits to consuming your daily dose. This isn’t a license to eat all of the chocolate you want but it’s certainly a reason to add in a few squares daily if you can keep it to a minimum.
Antioxidant Rich – Dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) is a potent antioxidant. Chocolate that is rich in cacao such as Green & Black’s 85% Cacao, is the best option and loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help destroy free radicals which are destructive molecules that may play a role in heart disease and other ailments.
“Two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has actually been shown to have the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. So the higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more awesome antioxidants you’ll consume.” – Dr. Axe
Boosts Heart Health – According to Cleveland Clinic, research has shown that flavanols (a type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate) have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. Dark chocolates flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Helps Prevent Depression – Theobromine, one of the compounds found in dark chocolate, is structurally quite similar to caffeine, its sister chemical. Theobromine, when consumed in larger amounts, can cause a dip in blood pressure, excitability and give energy.
Anandamide, another chemical found in dark chocolate, is structurally similar to THC, but nowhere near as effective. Despite this, anandamide can still provide a mood- and energy-boost, without the addiction and cardiovascular damage that comes with other stimulating substances.
One more mood-boosting chemical in chocolate is phenethylamine. Phenethylamine is metabolized in your body into serotonin. Serotonin is one of the most important mood-regulating chemicals your body can produce. If you’re deficient in serotonin, supplementing with phenethylamine—even through chocolate—can help bring you back to baseline.
Nutrient Value – Dark chocolate isn’t just full of antioxidants. It’s full of vitamins and minerals too! Dark chocolate contains:
- Omega-6 fatty acids
Boosts Your Immune System – The antioxidant load alone is a huge boost for your immune system. In addition, there are other nutrients that will help strengthen your immune system. Cocoa can modulate the inflammatory response of your immune system. Inflammation is tissue’s response to pathogens, chemicals, wounding, or infections. Flavonoids are generally associated with anti-inflammatory properties, and chocolate is filled with them.
How To Incorporate Dark Chocolate Into Your Daily Nutrition Regimen
If you love chocolate, you’re probably not worried how you’ll get your chocolate in daily. But even if you’re a chocolate aficionado, here are a few ways that you can incorporate this delicious treat. Enjoy!
- By itself! Dark chocolate is rich and bold. Often times, all you need is just a square or two by itself to be satiated.
- Add it to a super shake! Load up your next protein shake with raw cacao nibs. Pair those with a little almond butter and grass-fed whey vanilla or chocolate protein and you’ve got a delicious yet nutritious protein shake.
- Top your favorite yogurt with dark chocolate. Add cacao nibs or shavings of dark chocolate to your favorite yogurt (greek or regular) for a little antioxidant boost.
- Frozen chocolate covered fruit. Mmmm…I love chocolate covered strawberries. You could use any fruit that you love. Melt your dark chocolate (in a double boiler) and dip fruit in chocolate. Freeze and enjoy as a little snack.