At some point in time, we've all heard that dark chocolate can benefit your health in non-abusive doses. That said, most of the people that say that actually have little knowledge of why it is so, yet alone what the actual benefits are. To anyone with an intent to find out what the 10 secret health benefits of dark chocolate are, keep reading.
1. Antioxidants? Look No Further
Dark chocolate is made mostly out of cocoa or cacao beans, which grow on cacao trees. Any type of plant originating foods – like fruits, vegetables and so on – develop certain substances that help them survive in the wild. In the case of cocoa beans, they are packed with antioxidants, substances that help free your body of free radicals. These radicals are mostly at fault for speeding up the aging process and even worse, causing various types of cancer. To connect the dots, consuming a fair amount of dark chocolate will help prevent cancer and slow your aging.
2. Your Heart Will Rejoice
Recent short-term clinical studies show that cocoa, and in turn dark chocolate, have beneficial effects on your cardiovascular system. These effects include lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, mild anti-clotting effects and the prevention of plague gathering in the arteries. What more could you want from a treat?
3. You Get a Powerful Pack of Vital Vitamins & Minerals
Being a plant-based food, dark chocolate naturally includes a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals, the most outstanding among them potassium, copper, iron, magnesium and, among the vitamins, vitamin D. These help prevent various problems, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various cardiovascular problems. Not to mention your daily required intake that gets fulfilled.
4. Beneficial Effects On The Brain
Yes, you read right. Dark chocolate contains more than 500 natural chemical compounds, which include PEA, caffeine and theobromine. We all know the effects of caffeine, and the other two are basically mood elevators, releasing endorphins into your brain. This makes you feel good, more energetic and gets the brain working in higher gear. The caffeine levels are also a lot lower than in coffee, giving you most of the positive effects of caffeine and theobromine, without the negative ones that happen with overuse.
5. Theobromine Again, This Time Helping Your Teeth
As mentioned, theobromine is a mild stimulant for your brain, but it also has another useful effect on you body – it helps harden tooth enamel. This means that in contrast with other sweets, dark chocolate actually helps you prevent tooth cavities – provided you practice good oral hygiene of course.
6. Blood Sugar Level Problems? What Blood Sugar Level Problems?
Dark chocolate helps relieve blood sugar level problems on three fronts. First, it helps you circulatory system do its job better, as described above. Second, the flavonoids it contains help your cells function normally, lowering insulin resistance, meaning your body gets to use its own insulin more efficiently. And third, it has a very low glycemic index, which means that eating it in regulated doses won't cause spikes in your blood sugar, even though it tastes great.
7. Flavonoids Are Your Skin's Best Friends
German researchers have recently discovered that the flavonoids contained in dark chocolate absorb UV light, help keep your skin hydrated and improve your complexion. This is even more beneficial to those of you who live in the corners of the earth where the sun is especially harsh.
8. Dark Chocolate vs. Food Cravings
Trying to lose weight? Use dark chocolate to help. Studies have shown that ingesting 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily, divided between meals, helps reduce cravings for unhealthy food. This means that you get to eat chocolate during your diet, and it helps you resist the urge to overeat on everything else. What could be better? The cause for this is that dark chocolate is rich in fiber, which makes you feel more full while eating less.
9. May You Never Cough Again
The credits for this effect again go to theobromine. The substance has been used for ages in herbal medicine to suppress coughing. It's so effective in the matter that scientists have even considered inventing a theobromine-based drug to replace the traditional cough medicine, which in based on codeine, as codeine has some negative side effects. Until they do, you can suppress your cough with some delicious dark chocolate.
10. Give Your Eyesight A Boost
We have already mentioned the effects of dark chocolate on increasing and optimizing the blood flow. In 2011, a team of scientists created a theory that the increased bloodflow, especially through the head, would also affect bloodflow through you eyes – your retina, to be exact. This, although not yet scientifically proven, means that when consuming dark chocolate, even your eyesight should get an temporary or even permanent upgrade.
We have seen the many beneficial effects of dark chocolate on the human body. From lifting your spirits to helping you prevent heart disease, it really does wonders for your health. Keep in mind though that chocolate is still rich in calories, so try not to consume more than 3 ounces a day to avoid gaining extra weight. Also, the more cocoa the dark chocolate includes, the better, so go for 60% or more. Other than that, enjoy your chocolate and the benefits it brings.
This article was written and researched by Genevie Garcia (UK chocolatier). Genevie runs an online chocolate delivery service, known as Chocolate by Genevie, which specializes in luxury artisan chocolates sourced from Europe's top chocolatiers.