Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

Everyone knows that eating dark chocolate is good for health. Chocolate is made from cacao, which comes from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree. (The Greek word Theobroma literally translates to “food of the gods.”)

 

This species of tree thrives in tropical rainforests in Central and South America. There, it has a special mix of conditions that it needs to grow, like humidity and shade. The cacao tree is common in several wilderness areas, and no one really knows the reason: it could be that the cacao beats out other trees in competition, or that these wild populations are the result of large-scale plantations grown hundreds of years ago.[1]

 

Dark chocolate history goes back at least 3,000 years. Early on, dark chocolate was the only form of chocolate available. It was developed around 1900 B.C. as a beverage in what is now Central and South America.

 

Later the Mayans and the Aztecs made bitter dark chocolate beverages for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.

The Spanish brought chocolate back to Europe and added cane sugar or honey to the formula to sweeten it. It wasn’t until 1689 that milk was added to traditional dark chocolate drinks by Hans Sloan in Jamaica, making the first milk chocolate.

During the 20th century, mass distribution greatly increased the popularity of milk chocolate, and in the late 20th century, dark chocolate regained popularity due to its health benefits.

All studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap of course) can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease.

chocolate, sweet, dark

 10 Great Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

10. Dark Chocolate Makes You Happy

Why ark chocolate makes you happy?  Simply PEA (phenylethylamine) in chocolate triggers your brain to release endorphins – the chemicals it produces when you feel happy or in love. It’s no wonder why you suddenly feel so good after tasting a piece of a high-quality chocolate bar.

happy, brain, milk chocolate

 

9. Dark Chocolate Improves Blood Flow to the Brain

Compounds in dark chocolate boost memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. [2]

The flavonoids in chocolate have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain in young and old alike.

8. Cocoa Is Rich in Good Nutrients

High-quality dark chocolate gives you plenty of fibre, so it’s great for your diet. It also boosts you up with high levels of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc, and potassium. It’s a natural health booster, so why would you avoid it?

Of course, a bar of chocolate also contains a lot of calories, so it’s important not to go overboard with consumption. As we always say moderation is the key, you’ll always get the most significant potential out of any healthy food when you consume it in moderation.

7. It Has Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants protect your body’s cells from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. That’s because they balance out the damaging effects of free radicals.

Cocoa beans contain flavanols. These are antioxidants, which reduce the damage free radicals cause to the body’s cells.
Although scientific studies are not particularly clear whether eating chocolate reduces the risk of getting certain cancers, they show that flavanols support the heart’s work.

Since these antioxidants are found in cocoa beans, it means you should eat chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa in its ingredient list. Always read the covers well when buying dark chocolate, different brands have deferent percentages.

6. Dark Chocolate Protects Your Skin from Dehydration

The antioxidants in dark chocolate will help you stay protected under the sun. They increase hydration and skin density by improving the blood flow to the skin.

It can reduce or prevent your chances of getting sunburned. Also if you were to get sunburned, eating dark chocolate can help your skin heal quicker.

Keep that bar of chocolate in your bag when heading to the beach, but hey don’t forget the water as well!

5. It Supports the Functions of Your Heart

This is another health benefit linked to antioxidants. Flavanols effectively prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). One study showed that they also reduced the calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries.

With that, they reduce the risk of heart disease.

4. It Boosts Your Energy Levels

Cocoa is relatively rich in theobromine and caffeine, which are known to stimulate your energy level. We’re saying “relatively” rich since the levels are not as high when you compare them to coffee. Still, dark chocolate will make you feel a bit more awake if you consume it at breakfast.

See also Best Fruits for Energy

3. Dark Chocolate Can Boost Your Focus

Dark chocolate (again not the sugary or milky kind) can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness.

Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood. This doesn’t mean you should eat a huge brick of chocolate every day! Moderation is the key.

See also Natural Supplements for Memory and Focus

2. Dark Chocolate May Help in Diabetes Prevention

Sure you are asking yourself, how could it prevent diabetes? it has sugar!

Yes; it sounds crazy. But when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity in your body. With that, it may prevent the onset of diabetes, at least temporarily.

1. Promotes weight loss

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than its lighter-coloured sibling because it reduces cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.

So if indulging in a bit of healthy dark chocolate should not only make it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but it should make it easier for you to stick to your diet in general.

See also Protein Shakes and Weight Loss

See also Best Fruits for Weight Loss

Summary

There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against heart disease.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.

Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savour them. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories in chocolate, consider making hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.

Also, be aware that a lot of chocolate on the market is not healthy.

Choose quality stuff — dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content should do.

Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar as we have mentioned, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste awesome while providing significant health benefits.