Is Dark Chocolate Actually Good For Your Health?

Chocolate is often classified under the same category as candy, chips, and soda, and many individuals believe it is unhealthy for them and they should really stay away from it. However, research has shown this should not be the line of thought individuals have when it comes to dark chocolate. There are actually numerous health benefits to consuming dark chocolate on a regular basis, provided it is only in moderation and individuals don't find themselves eating multiple dark chocolate bars every day.

Start reading to find out how indulging in some good quality dark chocolate can help boost your overall health and wellbeing.

Releases Feel-Good Endorphins And Reduces Depression

When an individual falls in love, their brain produces a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), which in turn signals the brain to release endorphins that will make the individual feel good. Good quality dark chocolate - though it may not be cheap - contains PEA, so individuals can still help their brain release good endorphins and attempt to mimic the effects of falling in love. PEA is also metabolized into serotonin, which is one of the most effective mood-regulating chemicals the body can produce. Serotonin, in fact, is often referred to as the happy chemical in the brain. Research has linked low serotonin levels to depression, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. If the body is low in serotonin, using dark chocolate and supplementing phenethylamine in this way is a great way to help bring the body back to a good baseline.

Continue reading to discover how dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Reduced Risk Of Diabetes And Good For Diabetics

Research from The Journal Of Nutrition indicates regular consumption of high-polyphenol dark chocolate would increase insulin sensitivity, which is highly beneficial for those at an increased risk of developing diabetes, as diabetics are either unable to produce insulin or cannot efficiently process insulin. Furthermore, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than both milk and white chocolate, particularly as the cocoa percentage increases (the percentage on the front of a chocolate bar package). Although the darker the chocolate or (the higher the percentage) and the more bitter it is, it will not produce the same spikes in blood sugar which make it a safer treat choice for those with diabetes. However, it is still essential to keep moderation in mind.

Continue reading to learn how dark chocolate can help reduce the body's levels of ‘bad' cholesterol.

Reduce LDL Cholesterol Levels

Research and trials have indicated cocoa powder can significantly reduce oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which occurs when LDL cholesterol reacts with free radicals. This reaction makes LDL cholesterol, or the ‘bad' cholesterol, able to damage other tissues in the body, such as the lining of the arteries in the heart. Cocoa powder, the prime ingredient in dark chocolate, is full of powerful antioxidants which, as the name suggests, protects against damage from oxidation.

Dark chocolate is also higher in flavonoids, which have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol even when oxidation is not involved. High levels of LDL cholesterol have been linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, high cholesterol means fatty deposits in the blood, which impedes the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. When blood flow is reduced to the heart, the risk of a heart attack increases, and when it is reduced to the brain, the risk of a stroke increases.

Continue reading to learn about the minerals in dark chocolate and how they help your health.

Rich In Minerals

Minerals are essential for a healthy body and to prevent various medical conditions. Since dark chocolate is rich in minerals, it is a good source for filling out a balanced diet. Of course, there are more minerals in chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage, so the darker the chocolate, the better.

The average dark chocolate bar with seventy to eighty-five percent cocoa has approximately eleven grams of fiber, as well as lots of potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium. Additionally, it has sixty-seven percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron, fifty-eight percent for magnesium, eighty-nine percent for copper, and ninety-eight percent for manganese. Benefits of sufficient iron, for instance, include treating iron-deficiency anemia, boosting energy, promoting a healthy pregnancy, and improving body temperature regulation. Magnesium benefits include reducing anxiety, improving energy, relieving constipation, reducing insomnia, and preventing migraines.

Continue reading to learn how dark chocolate can lower blood pressure.

Lower Blood Pressure

A study from Harvard University indicated dark chocolate with a minimum of fifty percent cocoa helps lower blood pressure in all of the study's participants, but had the most significant results in lowering blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. When hypertension goes without treatment and control, it significantly increases the risk for serious health conditions, such as heart failure, heart disease, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease, and even heart attacks. Although patients with hypertension will likely need to do more than just a square or two of dark chocolate every day, it certainly cannot hurt! Besides, this is certainly a delicious way to lower blood pressure, and the other ways, such as cutting out red meat, certainly won't be nearly as delicious.

Brain getting you down? Keep reading to learn how dark chocolate can boost cognitive function.

Boost Brain Function

According to research, regularly consuming high-quality dark chocolate is linked to improving cognitive performance, including visual-spatial awareness, working memory, and abstract reasoning. British psychologists have provided evidence indicating the flavonols in dark chocolate helps individuals with mental math. Their study included a number test conducted before and after consuming dark chocolate. This study may also apply to other kinds of chocolate, however dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa and subsequently more flavanols than milk or white chocolate, resulting in the effects on mental math and other aspects of cognitive performance will be more profound with dark chocolate.

Studies have also indicated a link between promoting healthy fetal growth and pregnancy. Keep reading to find out more.

Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby

Although research is still in its infancy stages, it does indicate a link between dark chocolate and healthy fetal growth, as well as reducing the risk of the mother developing preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication for both mother and baby. Preeclampsia occurs when the blood flow to the fetus is compromised, such as when it is cut off or significantly restricted. Typically, the blood flow is compromised due to high blood pressure. While higher blood pressure can be normal during pregnancy, it is still critical to monitor and manage. As mentioned previously, dark chocolate high in flavanols is a great way to lower blood pressure and as such, reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia. Sufficient blood flow also ensures the fetus is getting all of the necessary nutrients and elements needed for healthy growth.

Learn more about the health benefits associated with dark chocolate now.

Fights Free Radicals

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Free radicals are atoms that cause damage to the cells in an individual's body. Over time, this damage can lead to diseases like cancer and dementia. It is impossible to avoid free radicals completely, though certain foods contain nutrients called antioxidants, which help remove free radicals from the body. Dark chocolate is a food that contains copious amounts of antioxidants. Cacao beans, from which dark chocolate is made, have one of the best antioxidant profiles of any food in the world. The antioxidants contained in dark chocolate include flavanols and polyphenols, which are powerful phytonutrients. This combination of nutrients fights free radicals and prevents cell damage.

Uncover more dark chocolate health benefits now.

May Prevent Cancer

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Due to its high antioxidant content, dark chocolate may prevent various types of cancer. It may also protect against skin cancer because there are compounds in cocoa that raise the skin's tolerance for UVB light exposure. UVB rays are radiation from the sun, and they can cause sunburn and other types of skin damage. Too much UVB exposure over time increases the risk of skin cancer. In addition to protecting the skin, dark chocolate may reduce the risk of other types of cancer by reducing damage to the DNA. DNA damage over the years is often what leads to cancer in older individuals.

Continue reading to learn more about the delicious health benefits of dark chocolate now.

Reduces Risk Of Blood Clots

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Dark chocolate reduces an individual's risk of blood clots when it is consumed daily. According to a study done by scientists at Johns Hopkins, cocoa can act as a blood thinner. The blood-thinning effects of dark chocolate may be comparable to the effects of acetylsalicylic acid, a medication commonly taken by adults to prevent strokes and heart attacks. In the Johns Hopkins study, the researchers divided participants into two groups: a group of individuals who ate dark chocolate daily and a control group that did not consume any chocolate. The researchers then took blood samples from each group and observed how long it took the participants' platelets to clot. The blood of the participants who ate chocolate daily clotted at a slower rate than the blood of the participants who followed a chocolate-free diet. Having platelets that clot more slowly is a good thing, as it indicates life-threatening blood clots inside the body are less likely to occur. It is thought the flavonoids in dark chocolate are responsible for this effect.

Get more details on how dark chocolate is beneficial to health now.

May Boost Vision

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According to some research, dark chocolate may boost vision for several reasons. First of all, dark chocolate contains substances that boost blood flow around the body. This means more blood is able to flow to the eyes, providing the eyes with plenty of nutrients. Blood flow to the brain is also enhanced, which allows the brain to work with the eyes more effectively. Dark chocolate is also high in copper, which is not just useful for minting pennies. Copper is an essential nutrient for the optic nerves in the eyes. Getting enough copper in the diet is crucial for good eye health. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that help preserve the health of the eye and prevent eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Discover more dark chocolate health benefits now.

Prevents Oxidative Stress

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Dark chocolate prevents oxidative stress, which happens when free radicals are abundant in the body. Free radicals damage the cells and can wreak havoc on an individual's DNA. Oxidative stress contributes to aging and can lead to certain diseases associated with getting older. It can also increase the risk of many cancers. Luckily, there are many delicious foods that can reduce or even reverse the damage caused by oxidative stress. Dark chocolate is one of the most powerful of these foods because it contains an abundance of antioxidants. The prevention of oxidative stress is really at the root of dark chocolate's many health benefits, from cancer prevention to its anti-aging properties.

So next time you are at the grocery store, remember these health benefits and reach for a bar of high-quality dark chocolate!

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    Jessica Groom