Sinfully sweet! That’s the term to use when describing dark chocolate. However, research has shown that you don’t have to pity yourself for craving for this mouthwatering snack. This is because there are so many amazing health benefits masked by the sweet taste. Dark chocolate is primarily cocoa. Actually, cocoa occupies close to 90% of dark chocolate with the remaining percentage being occupied by cocoa butter, fiber, and sugar. So, a majority of the health benefits we are going to discuss are linked to cocoa.
Nutritional Profile of Dark Chocolate
We’ve already mentioned that cocoa is the main constituent in dark chocolate. It’s also important to know that cocoa has bioactive ingredients called flavanols. Flavanols are antioxidants which prevent free radicals in the body. This is critical in promoting different heart functions like improving blood circulation and blood pressure regulation. As antioxidants, flavanols are not just protective of your heart but also of your brain and body in general.
Other than flavanols, cocoa also contains catechins and polyphenols antioxidants. In fact, researchers argue that there are more of these antioxidants in dark chocolate than what you get in berries and other fruits. Besides antioxidants, dark chocolate also contains beneficial minerals like zinc, iron, and magnesium. All these minerals play key roles in your immunity and general health.
Key Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has so many health benefits and thus the list can be endless. However, these 7 are the major ones:
1. Dark Chocolate and Your Heart
In order to understand the role played by dark chocolate in your heart, you’ve to look at two important factors; blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Studies show that antioxidants present in dark chocolate help to regulate blood pressure. As a result, it’s able to prevent hypertension.
Studies also show that the antioxidants discourage the availability of bad cholesterol (what’s known as low-density lipoprotein). In turn, it encourages the availability of good cholesterol (what’s known as high-density lipoprotein). By regulating blood cholesterol, dark chocolate prevents heart attack diseases.
2. Dark Chocolate and Your Eyes
Recent research shows that dark chocolate is good for your eyes. The research indicates that the snack has an enormous effect on your vision. In this case, your eyes become sharper and you are able to differentiate and contrast things from a distance just on first glance. Though the study was on its clinical phase, there are positives pertaining to this benefit.
In fact, dark chocolate is recommended to individuals with pathological diseases which interfere with their vision. Such people should consider taking dark chocolate over milk chocolate as the former improves their vision acuity by a significant margin.
3. Dark Chocolate and Your Skin
You probably have noticed cocoa butter in most body creams and lotions. This bioactive component is also present in dark chocolate and is very beneficial to the skin. It protects your skin against drying and sun damage. Through flavanols, dark chocolate enhances blood circulation next to the skin surface. So, your skin tends to feel hydrated and soft.
One study shows that flavanols reduce the minimal erythemal dose. The dose refers to the number of destructive UV rays that can attack your skin. Flavanols form a protective coat over your skin to ensure that the minimal erythemal dose is not reached. This means that you can be exposed to the sun for an extended time without sustaining sunburns or your skin drying. Thus, if you are planning to go on a beach vacation any time soon, then you should bring some dark chocolate bars with you.
4. Dark Chocolate and Body Inflammation
The body responds to infectious germs in different ways. One way is through inflammation. Inflammation is not a concern so long as it’s short-term. When it becomes chronic, there’s a reason to worry as such a case is associated with cell damage and tissue death. Such symptoms expose you to the risk of arthritis and diabetes. Luckily, you can avoid it all by taking dark chocolate.
According to a 2018 study, consuming dark chocolate promotes anti-inflammatory functions in your body. This is very important when an inflammation seems to have taken longer than it should. Though researchers argue that more conclusive studies need to be done to support this, there are no reasons to think otherwise.
5. Dark Chocolate and Your Brain
Are you aware that you can prevent brain slowness and neurodegenerative conditions by taking dark chocolate? According to a 2016 study, dark chocolate helps to boost brain activity and cognitive functions. As a result, it helps to fight Parkinson’s Alzheimer, stroke, and other common neurodegenerative conditions.
The function is highly linked to flavanols. The study shows that the brain is able to recognize itself when you take dark chocolate. This is quite important in the event that you suffer an injury or a chronic disease that affects the brain. So, you are able to overcome the challenge of forgetfulness in the long run.
6. Dark Chocolate and Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar normally rises when insulin faces resistance in the body. Ideally, the hormone is supposed to regulate blood sugar to make sure that the levels are acceptable. So, insulin resistance is something to worry about as it’s associated with Diabetes Type 2. The good news is that it can be fixed by taking dark chocolate regularly but in moderation. This is according to a 2018 finding.
According to the finding, you only need about 20g of dark chocolate a day and this is enough to fight insulin resistance. In the end, an enhanced insulin function means reduced blood sugar volume and disease prevention. For patients with hypertensive diabetes, dark chocolate regulates both their blood pressure and glucose levels.
7. Dark Chocolate and Cancer Prevention
Lastly, there are scientific suggestions that show that dark chocolate has anti-cancer effects. Given its rich supply of antioxidants in cocoa, dark chocolate may significantly prevent the invasion of cancer agents. Though there are no studies to suggest that dark chocolate may help to treat cancer, what’s clear is the fact that it’s preventive. This ideology is well backed by the American Cancer Institute (ACI). But still, ACI insists on doing more conclusive studies on the relationship between dark chocolate and cancer.
Generally, you need dark chocolate to boost your overall health. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should snack excessively. You need to avoid getting addicted to dark chocolate as you also need other nutritious snacks. If taken in moderation, you can look forward to enjoying the discussed benefits among many others.