Eating dark chocolate with high cocoa content in moderation can deliver antioxidants and minerals and may help protect you from heart disease. But it may also contain high amounts of sugar and calories. 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.
Proven Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease.
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 (1Trusted Source):
- 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. Stearic acid has a neutral effect on body cholesterol. Palmitic acid can raise cholesterol levels, but it only makes up one-third of the total fat calories. Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but it’s unlikely to keep you awake at night, as the amount of caffeine is very small compared with coffee.
Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a few other minerals.
Powerful Source Of Antioxidants
ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It’s a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods. Researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of the food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can disarm the free radicals. Based on these studies, chocolate is considered rich in antioxidants. But the biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, as it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.
Moreover, research in humans does not always show the same range of antioxidant effects for chocolate. But experts say there isn’t enough evidence yet to say for certain
One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries
May Improve Blood Flow And Lower Blood Pressure
The flavonoids in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO). 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.
Raises HDL And Protects LDL From Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. It may protect against high cholesterol. In a small study, eating dark chocolate supplemented with the flavanol lycopene was found to significantly decrease levels of total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides (11Trusted Source). Some forms of LDL cholesterol are more likely to oxidize, which happens if they react with free radicals in your body. Oxidation makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
Further, it makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidation-prone forms of LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage
Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers oxidation-prone LDL and improves insulin sensitivity.
May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Moreover, 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. Research shows several fairly drastic improvements.
Over time, a number of studies have shown that consuming flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health
May Protect Your Skin From The Sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration (16).
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin 24 hours after exposure.
Further, studies have shown that MED can increase and even double after consuming high-flavanol dark chocolate or cocoa for 12 weeks (16). The result is that your skin has better protection from the sun.
Moreover, if you’re planning a beach vacation, consider enjoying some extra dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months. But check with your doctor or dermatologist before forgoing your normal skincare routine in favor of more dark chocolate. And remember that chocolate can’t replace sunscreen and other forms of sun protection.
This treat may have perks below the belt. An ounce a few times a week can help your ticker and what’s good for your heart could be good for other parts, too. Chocolate is rich in flavanols, plantand nutrients that can increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. It also helps your body make more nitric oxide, which can help with erections and is in many ED medications.
Dark Chocolate On ED Treatment
Moreover, chocolate is rich in flavanols, and plant nutrients that can increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. It also helps your body make more nitric oxide, which can help with erections and is in many ED medications.