There are a lot of superfoods that can be beneficial to your health. One of the best of them is that sweet treat called dark chocolate. Besides being a favorite of many, several health benefits might make you love it even more, and better health is often associated with longevity of life.
Dark chocolate differs from milk chocolate because of the amount of cocoa solids it contains. While milk chocolate can contain anywhere from 10% to 50% cocoa solids, dark chocolate has from 50% to 90%. The higher percentage of cocoa that it has, the less sugar it contains. It is also most likely to be non-diary – but also has some cocoa butter and sugar.
Benefits for the Heart
Some of the benefits of eating dark chocolate come from its flavanols. These chemicals from plants are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, enabling them to help prevent blood clots and to lower blood pressure. Studies have also revealed that the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) may also be lowered by helping to keep blood vessels flexible.
Healthy dark chocolate also helps reduce high cholesterol levels when supplemented with lycopene. Together, they reduced the levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol and triglycerides. LDL cholesterol can oxidize and damage the lining of the arteries in your heart. Studies have revealed that eating 45 grams of dark chocolate can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%.
Benefits of Nutrition
Dark chocolate is packed with lots of nutrition. The little squares contain fiber, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, and more. If you consume just one ounce, that is, at least 70% cocoa, you will get about 170 calories, 12 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of fiber.
Benefits for Your Brain
Dark chocolate benefits can also help your mood and brain. Polyphenic compounds can lift your mood and give you feelings of pleasure. They are anti-oxidants that help lower cortisol – the hormone produced by stress.
The flavonols help to improve blood flow to the brain, which increases the amount of oxygen and helps with nerve function. It also means an increase in your ability to learn and recall information.
Benefits Against Diabetes
Some studies have also revealed that the flavanols in dark chocolate can reduce insulin resistance. At the same time, it may also improve the production of insulin. It is recommended that you eat dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa with less sugar. If the chocolate is treated with alkali to cut down on the bitter taste, it will reduce the levels of antioxidants in it.
The Dark Side of Chocolate
While dark chocolate contains many good things for your heart and body, there are also some things to know about the dark side of chocolate. It does contain some caffeine, but it is much less than a cup of coffee.
Nearly all dark chocolate brands contain some heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead. These metals can be harmful in excess, so you want to avoid consuming large amounts of them. Some companies, Consumer Reports says, have reduced the levels of these metals in their chocolate, but you still should eat less than one ounce a day.
If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD, it is possible that the chocolate may make your symptoms worse. Most people tolerate it well, and it benefits your gut bacteria.
Health benefits have been evident in people who ate dark chocolate three times a week. It also helps to limit your cravings, so consuming it in the morning or evening may help with weight loss – if you avoid eating too much. It is one food you can enjoy that will help your longevity.