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Dark chocolates are considered as the best of both worlds. The yummy flavor is just an added bonus over its numerous health benefits. They are made from cocoa seed, which is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. They are not only good for your taste buds, but also for your overall health. It can be used in smoothies, cakes, desserts or you can simply munch on a bar of dark chocolate for crude pleasure. Here are 10 health benefits of dark chocolate that you should know.
1. Rich in Nutrients
A good quality dark chocolate is pretty rich in nutrients and will definitely benefit you in many ways. A 100 gm bar of dark chocolate usually contains plenty of potassium, fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium and much more. But, make sure you have it in moderation since all these nutrients come with 600 calories, as well.
2. Good for Heart
Recent studies have shown how taking small amounts of dark chocolate twice or thrice a week can lower your blood pressure and regulate your heart. It also improves the blood flow and prevents the formation of blood clots. Dark chocolate also prevents the situation of arteriosclerosis where the arteries become hard and stop functioning properly.
3. Good for Brain
Dark chocolate is known to boost the blood flow, whether it is your heart or your brain. It has cognitive benefits as well, like it prevents strokes. A research showed that dark chocolates have phenylethylamine (PEA), the same component that your body releases when you are falling in love. It makes your brain release endorphin, which takes you in a state of happiness. A happy mind is a healthy mind!
4. Lose Weight
What could be better than eating chocolates and losing weight? Sounds like a dream come true? A research at the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolates are much more filling and control the cravings for sweet and fatty food. So, instead of going for the high calorie fat desserts, just pick a piece of dark chocolate to end your cravings in a non-fattening way.
5. Blood Sugar
Since dark chocolate regulates the blood flow in the arteries, it’s also good for regulating your blood sugar level. Dark chocolates are especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, dark chocolates have a low GI index, so it won’t shoot up the blood sugar levels. The flavonoids in chocolates help your cell to function normally and use the body’s insulin effectively.
Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants, which reduce oxidative damage of your cells due to free radicals. If your body is able to fight off the free radicals, it’s protected against ageing and various types of cancers too. Therefore, a little bar of dark chocolate twice or thrice a week will not only keep your mood light, but will also safeguard you against ageing and cancer.
7. During Pregnancy
A research reported that women, who ate dark chocolates during their pregnancy, were better at handling stress than those, who didn’t. Also, the babies were found happier, and they smiled more often. So, if you are expecting, eat dark chocolates to get a happy baby.
8. Stress Buster
Ever wondered why you feel like indulging in chocolates right after a break-up or a fight with the boss? It turns out that emotional eating isn’t so bad after all. A research by Swiss people confirmed that when people in stress ate 1½ ounce of dark chocolates for a week, their stress hormone got down significantly. Hence, it is proved that dark chocolates are your ever ready stress busters.
9. Protection against Sun
Yes! You heard it right. Eating dark chocolates will also protect you against sunburns. A team of London researchers carried out a study and found that people, who were eating dark chocolates with high flavonoids, took twice the time to develop the reddening that indicates sunburn. There are many chocolate-based facials and massages, which make it very clear that chocolate is good for your skin too.
10. Higher Intelligence
Remember how you want to grab a piece of chocolate when you have a high pressure of completing a project? Well, next time, grab it because it will not only placate your stress level, but also increase your brain’s capacity for a while. A researcher at the University of Nottingham found that drinking or eating flavonoids-rich cocoa increases the blood flow in certain parts of the brain, which improves your productivity and concentration for about 2-3 hours.
Risks and Considerations
The health benefits of dark chocolate come primarily from the flavanols which are present in the cacao solids.
Flavanol content caries between different dark chocolate products. The methods of processing also differ between different manufacturers, and this can affect the flavanol content of the chocolates.
There is not a legal requirement for chocolate manufacturers to report the flavanol content within their products. However, products of dark chocolate which contain a high percentage of cacao solids should usually contain more flavanols.
Dark chocolate does contain beneficial minerals and antioxidants, however, it is also usually high in fat and sugar, which makes it a very calorie-dense type of food.
Dark chocolate contains fat which is in the form of cocoa butter. This mainly consists of unhealthy saturated fats.
With this in mind, people should try to limit their intake of dark chocolate to avoid consuming too many sugars, fats, and calories.
Dark chocolate generally contains less sugar than white chocolate and milk chocolate. When dark chocolate has higher percentages of cacao solids, it also typically contains even less sugar. The sugar content varies among different chocolate manufacturers. This means that it is important to check the nutrition label to find out exactly what is in the particular chocolate that you have.
10 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate: Conclusion
This article has highlighted 10 health benefits of dark chocolate which every chocolate lover should know. Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants and minerals and it also contains less sugar than other types of chocolate. Certain research suggests that dark chocolate can help to lower the risk of heart disease, can improve brain function, and can reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. People who are interested in adding some dark chocolate to their diet should keep it in their minds that dark chocolate can be high in calories and fat, so it is important to eat it in moderation.