Finally some good news about your favorite treat! A lot of research has gone into chocolate consumption and it turns out it's really good for your health. It seems daily doses of dark chocolate can keep the doctor far away.
Don’t go stuffing your face just yet, though. While dark chocolate has an abundance of benefits, experts warn that it's also highly fattening and can often be filled with lots of added sugars. Nonetheless, because this delicious food has so many advantages, you’d be crazy not to want to eat it.
1. Rich in nutrients
Dark chocolate is rich in many of the vitamins and minerals that are vital for your body's functioning. It has high concentrations of magnesium, iron, potassium, and copper. Magnesium helps prevent high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other heart diseases, while iron protects against anemia.
Both potassium and copper prevent stroke and cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa, contains a fair amount of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium, all daily required minerals from your diet.
2. Improves blood circulation and blood pressure
A significant benefit of dark chocolate is that it’s good for your heart and blood because it may improve your blood flow and lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains chemical compounds called flavanols. These stimulate the lining of arteries to produce a gas called nitric oxide.
This gas sends signals to the blood vessels to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and in turn, this helps reduce blood pressure. Lower blood flow reduces your chance of blood clots forming and prevents arteriosclerosis, the hardening of arteries.
3. It’s good for insulin resistance
Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it’s a good option for those with diabetes as it has a low glycemic index, so eating it doesn’t make your blood sugar levels rise. Dark chocolate has flavonoids, plant pigments, which are usually removed from chocolate because of their bitter taste. They help your cells function normally and retrain your body to use insulin effectively, reducing insulin resistance.
4. It can reduce cholesterol
Researchers have found that regularly eating dark chocolate lowers the LDL cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol, which is dangerous when oxidized. It can inflame your arteries, and promote heart attack or stroke risk. Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants which protect against oxidative damage. Dark chocolate has also been shown to increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol.
5. It improves the health of your skin
Dark chocolate can also be good for your skin’s health. Flavonoids in dark chocolate increase skin density, hydration, and improve the blood flow to your skin. Flavonoids offer some protection against sun-induced damage and can thwart off the reddening effect of burns, however, they can’t replace a good layer of sunscreen.
6. Protection for your teeth
Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which eliminates bacteria and hardens tooth enamel. If you practice good dental hygiene, dark chocolate can actually lower your risk of getting cavities.
7. It can treat coughs
Theobromine is also a mild stimulant and does wonders for suppressing coughs. This chemical compound blocks the sensory nerves from activity and this stops the cough reflex. Unlike codeine, the active ingredient in most cough syrups, dark chocolate doesn’t have that drowsy side effect.
8. It’s anti-aging and fights cancer
Dark chocolate can keep you looking young because it’s packed with antioxidants, which fight toxins and free radicals in your body that cause damage to skin cells. Not only do the antioxidants slow down the aging process but they can also eliminate certain cancerous cells.
Flavonols, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins are antioxidants present in dark chocolate that help slow the growth of cancer cells. Pentamer, another compound that naturally occurs in cocoa, can deactivate proteins that encourage cancer cells to continually divide.
9. It’s a mood enhancer
It’s well known that chocolate is some people's go-to food when they’re feeling down. The reason is that chocolate stimulates your body’s production of endorphins and serotonin, hormones that cause you to feel pleasure and happiness. Dark chocolate is also filled with phenylethylamine, the same chemical produced in your brain when you fall in love.
10. Acts as a stress reliever
It seems like dark chocolate is a miracle food because it can also be used to lower the risk of heart disease caused by stress. Dark chocolate helps people cope with stressful situations and feel the effects of stress less. Researchers found that people who ate dark chocolate regularly had lower levels of stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine, circulating in their blood.