It’s no secret that dark chocolate benefits are amazing for your health. Here are six surprising health dark chocolate benefits you may not have known about.
Table of Contents
What is dark chocolate?
Zinc, iron, and magnesium are among the minerals that are abundant in dark chocolate. It can lower inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease, among other health benefits.
Dark chocolate benefits
1. May Reduce the Risk of Stroke and Help Prevent Heart Disease
The potential improvement in heart health that dark chocolate may offer is one of the main advantages that researchers highlight. In July 2020, the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology released a comprehensive study and meta-analysis that revealed an 8 percent decreased risk of clogged arteries with just one weekly chocolate meal. An extensive study that examined data from over 188,000 veterans and was published in May 2021 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between eating roughly 1 oz of chocolate on a regular basis and a decreased risk of coronary artery disease.
Studies indicate that heart health is preserved by the flavonoids found in dark chocolate. According to a review that was published in the American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology in March 2017, these molecules aid in the production of nitric oxide, which lowers blood pressure and relaxes blood vessels.
People may underreport their consumption of chocolate because many of these studies are observational, which could distort the results. Another limitation of the studies is their inability to prove cause and effect directly.
Notwithstanding this margin for error, a meta-analysis that was published in July 2017 in Nutrients concluded that chocolate was probably helpful in lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
2. The medication may elevate your mood, prevent memory loss, and improve cognitive function.
No, it’s not your imagination. Research indicates that eating dark chocolate with a high cacao content—70%, for example—may be beneficial to your brain. According to research, chocolate increases neural activity in parts of the brain linked to reward and pleasure, which reduces stress and elevates mood, according to Joy Dubost, Ph.D., RD, registered dietitian, food scientist, and owner of Dubost Food and Nutrition Solutions in Arlington, Virginia.
Numerous investigations have started to focus on the specific ways that chocolate affects the brain. Eating 48 grams (g), or slightly more than 1.5 oz, of organic chocolate with 70% cacao increased neuroplasticity, or the brain’s capacity to form new synaptic connections. This could have favorable effects on mood, memory, and cognition. The research was presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting.
Additionally, a study that was published in April 2018 in The FASEB Journal discovered that eating chocolate may improve memory and learning because flavonoids, which are potent plant components found in cacao beans, have a tendency to accumulate in the brain regions involved in those processes. A July 2019 study that was published in Depression & Anxiety even suggested a link between eating dark chocolate and a lower chance of developing clinical depression.
Even though all of these results may excite you, especially if you have a sweet tooth, it’s important to remember that larger sample sizes need to be used in future studies, and more research is required to determine the mechanisms at play. So bear that in mind before you go out and buy a bunch of chocolate bars. Furthermore, the majority of studies employed far larger amounts of chocolate than the 1.5 oz daily suggested intake.
3. May Enhance Blood Sugar Levels and Lower the Chance of Diabetes
It may not seem like the ideal idea to eat chocolate every day to prevent diabetes, but research has shown that when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, moderate amounts of dark chocolate that are high in cacao can actually enhance how the body metabolizes glucose. According to a March 2019 StatPearls article, insulin resistance is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes and results in elevated blood glucose (sugar).
The flavonoids in dark chocolate benefits have been shown in a study that was published in October 2017 in the Journal of Community and Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives to lower oxidative stress, which is thought to be the main cause of insulin resistance. Your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, which lowers resistance and lowers your chance of developing disorders like diabetes.
Another study, which was released in January 2017 in the journal Appetite, revealed that individuals who ate chocolate infrequently were nearly twice as likely to acquire diabetes five years later as those who ate dark chocolate benefits once a week or more.
Although scientists concur that dark chocolate has numerous health advantages, more research is required to establish whether chocolate intake and the risk of diabetes are causally related.
4. Chocolate May Aid in Weight Loss and Is Beneficial to Your Gut
Daily chocolate consumption may seem like the last resort when it comes to weight management, but the study indicates that dark chocolate may help regulate appetite, which may aid with weight loss. In his book Eat Chocolate.
Lose Weight, neuroscientist Will Clower, PhD, explains how a small piece of dark chocolate eaten before or after meals causes the release of hormones that tell the brain when you’re full. Eating more than the daily suggested quantity can, of course, negate any potential weight reduction, and eating dark chocolate won’t make up for the negative consequences of a diet that is generally unhealthy.
According to earlier studies, chocolate acts as a prebiotic—a kind of fiber that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut—during the digestive process. Prebiotics should not be confused with probiotics. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health states that your body’s capacity to absorb nutrients and maintain a balanced metabolism is positively correlated with the number of “good” microorganisms present in your system.
According to research that was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in June 2021, increasing metabolism and reducing appetite can help with weight loss, even with milk chocolate. Only 19 women made up the participant group, thus more investigation is required to support those findings. It’s also crucial to remember that chocolate, particularly milk chocolate, has a lot of calories and should only be eaten in moderation; consuming more won’t make you healthier.
5. It Combats Free Radicals and Could Help Prevent Cancer
Although there is little, evidence suggests that dark chocolate benefits may offer some protection against some cancers. A previous study suggests that free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules, are the cause of aging and disease. Antioxidants shield our cells from these damaging chemicals.
When you have too many free radicals in your body, they start to attack your cells, and that can lead, over time, to low-grade inflammation and to some diseases — cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’sDr. DuBost
Eating a diet high in flavonoids, which chocolate is high in, can help prevent cell damage, which is frequently the first sign of many malignancies, according to the American Cancer Society. Among the many flavonoids included in chocolate, epicatechin is thought to be the one responsible for its ability to prevent cancer, according to previous studies. According to USDA data, chocolate is also generally a good source of magnesium. A study that was published in the journal Cell in January 2022 discovered that the body’s immune cells can only target aberrant or infected cells in an environment high in magnesium.
However, the majority of studies are restricted to animal or cell culture models, and the quantity of chocolate required to possibly prevent cancer is far greater than the daily recommended intake for people.
6. It Benefits Your Skin in a Variety of Ways
dark chocolate benefits is a great source of vitamins and minerals that are good for your skin, including copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For instance, manganese aids in the synthesis of collagen, a protein that keeps skin appearing young and healthy. According to a number of previous research, the high antioxidant content of dark chocolate benefits may shield skin from the sun’s potent UV radiation.
Other studies found that antioxidant-rich chocolate did not significantly protect against UV radiation, but it did increase the suppleness of sun-exposed skin; the precise mechanism behind this is unknown.
7. May Increase Good Cholesterol and Decrease Bad Cholesterol
A study published in November 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that consuming dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa, and a handful of almonds significantly reduced the low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, of participants who were overweight or obese. This finding supports the claims made about dark chocolate as a cholesterol-lowering food.
According to Dubost, dark chocolate’s cocoa butter may also contribute to an increase in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. According to the National Library of Medicine, oleic acid, a monounsaturated lipid found in heart-healthy olive oil, is also present in cocoa butter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that, in contrast to olive oil, cocoa butter is likewise high in saturated fat, which when consumed in excess can be heart-harming. This emphasizes the importance of controlling portion sizes.
how much dark chocolate should you eat a day?
Experts advise a recommended “dose” of between one and two ounces, or thirty to sixty grams. If you indulge in anything more, you can be overindulging in calories. 190 calories can be found in a 1.45-ounce (41-gram) Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar.
is 70 dark chocolate good for you?
It’s really healthful if you get high-quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. It is rich in minerals and has a respectable amount of soluble fiber. One hundred grams of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa content has one hundred and eleven grams of fiber.
which dark chocolate is the healthiest?
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company Intense Dark 86% Cacao Dark Chocolate.
K’UL K’ul Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Bar, Wild Ginger & Cayenne.
Tony’s Chocolonely 70% Dark Chocolate Bar.
Almonds and Sea Salt in Strong Dark Chocolate.
is dark chocolate good for your skin?
Dark chocolate contains bioactive chemicals that may be beneficial to skin health. The flavanols can enhance skin blood flow, boost skin density, and hydrate the skin in addition to providing protection against sun damage (16).