It is pretty hard to find anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. It is popular as a flavoring or ingredient in many of the most loved snacks and desserts. Were you aware that there are a number of benefits of dark chocolate?
In this article, we will present to you 10 of the luscious benefits of dark chocolate and show you how science has proven that not all carbs are bad.
10 Benefits of Dark Chocolate to Energize Your Day
1. Suppresses Cough
Though it might come as a surprise, one of the many benefits of dark chocolate is as a cough suppressant.
In an Imperial College, London study published on Web MD, researchers reported that the compound, theobromine, found in cocoa, was more effective at quieting persistent coughing than codeine.
2. Improves Cognitive Function
Australian researchers point to improving cognitive function as another of the benefits of dark chocolate.
The study reports that the intake of dark chocolate associates with stronger performance on a battery of six cognitive performance tests.
We are all aware that some people crave chocolate whenever they are going through a crisis. Studies show that another of the benefits of dark chocolate is its function as an antidepressant.
Doctor Diana Walcutt credits chocolate for aiding in the production of serotonin and endorphins which help get rid of depression.
4. Reduces Risk of Stroke
A lower risk of stroke is also among the critical benefits of dark chocolate.
Results of a Scottish study published on NHS Choices showed that with the consumption of chocolate came a significantly lower risk of having a stroke as well as mortality from stroke.
5. Improves Heart Health
Another life saving item on our list of benefits of dark chocolate is better heart health.
A study from the Research Gate measures coronary circulation using a factor called coronary flow velocity reserve (CVFR). The study claims that subjects who consume dark chocolate have an improved CVFR by nearly 20 percent.
6. Improves Insulin Resistance
Improved insulin resistance can also be one of the surprising benefits of dark chocolate.
Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance lowered to .94 as compared to 1.72 in subjects not consuming dark chocolate, according to Italian researchers.
7. Protects Skin from Solar Radiation
German scientists arrived at good news for those who worry about solar radiation and its damage to skin cells.
Their study indicates that UV-induced erythema reduced with a factor of 15% to 25% in subjects who consumed dark chocolate. This proves that protection from UV radiation is also among the benefits of dark chocolate.
8. Has High Antioxidant Value
Another of the impressive benefits of dark chocolate is its free radical destroying antioxidant values. A Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition study indicated that cocoa matched or exceeded levels of obtained and analyzed for antioxidant capacity (ORAC ), total polyphenol content (TP), and total flavonol content (TF) standards used to measure super foods.
This makes dark chocolate a legitimate member of the super foods list.
9. Improves Fetal Growth
Improving fetal growth is another of the encouraging benefits of dark chocolate.
A University of Iowa study reported reduced preeclampsia and gestational hypertension risk. This contributes to improved fetal growth, in pregnant subjects who consume dark chocolate.
10. Gives Better Cholesterol Profile
Wrapping up our list of the benefits of dark chocolate is its role in helping provide an better cholesterol profile.
Improved lipid profiles and decreased platelet reactivity appeared at all subjects who consumed dark chocolate in a Johns Hopkins study.
How Natural Really Is Dark Chocolate?
Chocolate is made from cacao or cocoa beans. Like peas, the seeds inside the bean pods are what are harvested. Those seeds ferment, dry and then go through processing. This goes either through a cold press process or a roasting process before it takes powder form. In addition to this type of processing, Dutch cocoa also gets through washing in a potassium solution in order to help reduce its acidity and give it a milder flavor.
Dark chocolate is typically between 70 and 99 percent pure cocoa solids. Richer flavor of chocolate corresponds to the higher percentage of cacao purity. Cocoa is naturally bitter. Therefore, alkalizing, fermenting and adding milk and/or sugar are various ways to make it sweeter. That sweetness is at the expense of the high concentrations of flavanols that are destroyed with extensive processing.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition
Dark chocolate, believe it or not, contains a number of beneficial nutrients in moderate to high concentrations. One ounce of dark chocolate which is between 70 and 85 percent pure cocoa contains:
- 8.7 g protein;
- 12 g fat (including 9.5 mg of omega-3 and 341 mg of omega-6 fatty acids);
- 3.1 g fiber;
- 0.5 mg manganese (27% DV);
- 0.5 mg copper (25% DV);
- 3.3 mg iron (19% DV);
- 63.8 mg magnesium (16% DV);
- 86.2 mg phosphorus (9% DV);
- 200 mg potassium (6% DV);
- 0.9 mg zinc (6% DV).
Besides these nutrients, there are trace amounts of selenium and calcium also present in chocolate. What makes chocolate such a powerful nutrient is the flavonol, quercetin, which is a potent antioxidant. With this combination of nutrients contained in dark chocolate, it’s no wonder that research has been able to derive so many benefits from this luscious carb.
A Note of Caution
Though it is pretty clear that dark chocolate can contribute to improved health, there are some necessary cautions to keep in mind. In moderation, cocoa is safe. But consuming large amounts or individuals with specific health conditions might note some negative side effects from it. Dark chocolate can contribute to:
- Caffeine related nervousness;
- Increased urination;
- Allergic reactions;
- Trigger for migraines;
- Intestinal discomfort;
There are approximately 12 mg of caffeine in 1 oz. of dark chocolate. A safe level of dark chocolate consumption is less than:
- 20 oz. per day for most healthy individuals;
- 15 oz. per day for those who are pregnant or nursing.
Adverse Drug Reactions
There are also adverse drug reactions that come from consuming cocoa. Those drugs with which cocoa does not react well include:
- Adenosine (Adenocard);
- Clozapine (Clozaril);
- Dipyridamole (Persantine);
- Ergotamine (Ergomar);
- Medications for asthma (Beta-adrenergic agonists), depression (MAOIs), and diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs);
If you are considering dark chocolate for improving your health conditions, it is best to consult a your health care professional. This way, you will obtain a full understanding of possible side effects, reactions with your medications and proper levels of consumption.
Some Final Thoughts
The fact that so many science-based studies back up the benefits of dark chocolate for improving a wide variety of health conditions is motivation for adding it as a regular part of your diet. Improve your health today, making use of dark chocolate to help with one or several of the above conditions.
Let us know about success stories related to health improvements from consuming dark chocolate below.