6 health benefits of chocolate .Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.
Made from the seed of the cacao tree, it’s one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find.
Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease.
6 health benefits of Chocolate
May improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
The flavanoids in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO) (5).
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, though the effects are usually mild .
However, one study in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure showed no effect, so take this with a grain of salt . It’s possible that people who are already receiving treatment for high blood pressure may not get any additional benefit from adding cocoa flavanols to their diet.
Given the great variation between studies on this subject, it’s clear that more research is needed .
2. May reduce heart disease risk
The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.
In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.
In fact, research show a fairly drastic improvement.
Over time, a number of studies have shown that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health .
A review of studies revealed that eating chocolate 3 times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9% . Eating chocolate more often showed little additional benefit
3. Reduces stress
People who ate dark chocolate reported that they felt less stressed, and researchers confirmed that after eating dark chocolate, there were reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be related to dark chocolate’s effects on heart health, since stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
4.Improves brain function
Flavonols in dark chocolate have a positive impact on brain function, including better reaction time, visual-spatial awareness and stronger memory. Though research is ongoing, one reason for this may be that flavonols increase blood flow to the brain.
5. Very nutritious
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it’s quite nutritious.
It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains :
- 11 grams of fiber
- 66% of the DV for iron
- 57% of the DV for magnesium
- 196% of the DV for copper
- 85% of the DV for manganese
In addition, it has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. These nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.
For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.
The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also good. The fats consist mostly of oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
6. Boosts athletic performance
The epicatechin in dark chocolate increases the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which supports circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen an athlete uses while engaged in moderately intense exercise. This allows the athlete to maintain workout intensity for longer.
Here are some facts about dark chocolate’s health benefits:
- The higher the cocoa content, the more beneficial flavonols the chocolate contains. Most of the benefits seen in research are associated with chocolate that has at least a 70% cacao content.
- Researchers have not come up with a hard and fast recommendation of how much dark chocolate should be consumed to achieve these health benefits. Experts recommend minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao content, and maybe have an ounce as an occasional treat.
- You should always check the label to be aware of the calorie, fat and sugar content, which could potentially affect the overall health benefit.