5 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health.

Dark chocolate and fruit

1. Very nutritious

If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it’s quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 67% of the DV for iron
  • 58% of the DV for magnesium
  • 89% of the DV for copper
  • 98% of the DV for manganese

In addition, it has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. These nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation.

The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also good. The fats consist mostly of oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid.

The stearic acid has a neutral effect on body cholesterol. Palmitic acid can raise cholesterol levels, but it only makes up one-third of the total fat calories.

Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but it’s unlikely to keep you awake at night, as the amount of caffeine is very small compared with coffee.

2. Powerful source of antioxidants

ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It’s a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Basically, researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of a food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can disarm the free radicals.

Antioxidant in fruit

The biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, as it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

However, it’s worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested.

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.

3. Raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation

Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.

In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with.

Oxidized LDL means that the LDL cholesterol has reacted with free radicals.

This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.

It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.

The flavanols in dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

However, dark chocolate also contains sugar, which can have the opposite effect.

4. May reduce heart disease risk

The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.

In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.

In fact, several long-term observational studies show a fairly drastic improvement.

In a study of 470 older men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 50% over 15 years.

Heart Health

Another study revealed that eating chocolate two or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.

Yet another study showed that eating dark chocolate more than five times per week lowered the risk of heart disease by 57%.

A 2017 clinical trial found that subjects who consumed almonds with or without dark chocolate showed improved LDL cholesterol levels.

Of course, these four studies are observational, so it’s unclear exactly if it was the chocolate that reduced the risk.

However, since the biological process is known (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL), it’s plausible that regularly eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease.

5. Could improve brain function

The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your brain.

One study of healthy volunteers showed that eating high flavanol cocoa for 5 days improved blood flow to the brain.

Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. It may improve verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease, as well.

Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.

The conclusion:

There is a lot of evidence that cocoa has a lot of health benefits, especially when it comes to heart disease prevention.

Of course, this does not imply that you should eat a lot of chocolate every day. It’s still high in calories and simple to consume too much of.

After dinner, have a square or two and try to savour them. Consider creating a hot cocoa without any cream or sugar if you want the advantages of cocoa without the calories of chocolate.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of chocolate on the market isn’t healthy.

Choose high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 70% or more. You might be interested in this guide to finding the best dark chocolate.

Sugar is commonly found in dark chocolates.

Dark chocolates normally contain some sugar, although it is usually in small amounts, and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains.

Chocolate is one of the rare foods that tastes great and has a lot of health advantages.

Dark chocolate can be found in local grocers or online.

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