Daily consumption of dark chocolate (often known as bitter chocolate) could bring some health benefits. As it contains a higher percentage of cocoa, it is considered the healthiest of all the varieties that exist. Here are some of its benefits.
But first, a little bit of history. In the past, chocolate was an exotic food. It arrived in Europe between the 19th and 20th centuries from America. It was introduced and accepted very quickly by the nobility and the upper classes of the society of that time. And it is easy to understand why: its delicious taste!
Today, chocolate is one of the ultimate pleasures of millions of people around the world and chocolate shops offer an increasingly wide variety of combinations, shapes and sizes. Keep reading and find out all about the benefits of dark chocolate!
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
According to scientific evidence published to date, regular consumption of dark chocolate (i.e. with a high percentage of cocoa) produces the following effects in the body.
1. Decreases the risk of strokes
According to studies conducted in Sweden with a group of more than two thousand women, it has been observed that consuming dark chocolate for a week could decrease the chances of suffering a stroke. The study has indicated that the chances of suffering one could be reduced by up to 20%. Of course, more research is needed.
It’s believed that chocolate could have anticoagulant properties and, for this reason, would help to prevent these diseases. The substances known as flavonoids would be the ones that help prevent the blood from clotting excessively. They can also delay the oxidation of cells.
2. Improves the heart health
Regular consumption of dark chocolate could help reduce “bad” cholesterol in the blood, according to data from the American Heart Association. This type of cholesterol is scientifically called LDL cholesterol, which stands for low density lipoproteins.
In addition, there’s evidence that it could help control blood pressure. That’s why it would be able to reduce the risk of suffering from some type of heart disease.
3. It can help us feel full
Dark chocolate, in general, contains about 12 grams (0.5 oz) of fiber per 100 grams (4 oz) It’s believed that its fiber intake could help to generate a feeling of satiety, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
If this theory were proven, then chocolate would reduce cravings for other foods that could cause weight gain. In this case, its controlled and daily use in adequate amounts could help us to lose weight due to its satiating properties. We need to clarify that this belief hasn’t been scientifically proven.
4. Fights diabetes
Although it isn’t yet confirmed (some studies point to this possibility and others still in process), it’s believed that dark chocolate, if consumed regularly and in moderation, could help fight diabetes, because it could increase insulin sensitivity.
5. Beneficial for the skin
Chocolate, as mentioned before, is a food rich in flavonoids. These are antioxidants that can protect the skin against UV rays.
However, you shouldn’t think that by consuming dark chocolate you won’t have to use sunscreen – sunscreen is essential!
6. Dark Chocolate could help calm coughs
Among the components of chocolate is one called theobromine. It’s an active ingredient that can act on the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that causes coughing attacks.
7. It could help lift your mood
When someone is depressed, discouraged, or stressed, people often recommend that you eat some chocolate – and even more so if it’s dark chocolate. Popular belief holds that you’ll feel much better, so it would be a good idea to always keep a few chocolate bars on hand!
8. Improves blood circulation
Chocolate could have anticoagulant properties, as we’ve already mentioned. In this case, it would help improve blood circulation. To be more specific, its flavanol’s would help stimulate the endothelium, i.e. the lining of the arteries. By increasing the production of nitric oxide, it would relax the arteries and improve blood pressure.
While this effect is still under study, researchers believe that eating dark chocolate and cocoa in moderate portions may slightly reduce high blood pressure.
9. Improves vision
Because of chocolate’s circulation-enhancing properties, an article in Harvard Health Publishing states that it may contribute to blood flow to the retina. If this were proven, dark or bitter chocolate could improve vision.
10. May promote learning
According to some research, increased blood flow to the brain makes us feel alert and more awake, thus facilitating learning. However, it’s clear that just consuming chocolate won’t help us pass our exams! However, using dark chocolate within a healthy lifestyle and a proper study routine is what would do the “magic”.
Eat dark chocolate to improve your health (in moderation!)
For all these reasons, some doctors argue that moderate consumption of dark chocolate – within a balanced diet – could actually be good for your health. Of course, if in doubt, consult your trusted specialist.
Remember that to obtain all these benefits, it’s necessary to use a variety with a high percentage of cocoa. Most of the chocolates on the market have excessive amounts of sugar in their composition, which reduces their quality.