It may seem too good to be true, but chocolate is actually good for you. And no, not the sugary candy type that you can find in that supermarket aisle you’ve been doing your damnedest to avoid. We’re talking about rich and delicious dark chocolate – sans the added calories of milk, sugar, and butter, of course.
It all lies in the cacao, the bean where chocolates come from. Because cacao by itself is quite bitter and not very delicious, you do need the good stuff to dilute the taste. However, if you keep it to at least 70% cacao (or cocoa – essentially cacao in roasted and grounded form), then you can certainly have your chocolate…and eat it, too.
Here’s what makes dark chocolates seriously awesome for you:
1. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants.
Really, it all goes back to the mighty cacao seed. It is, hands down, the best source of antioxidants in the entire planet. So dark chocolate with a high cacao percentage is inevitably loaded with various organic compounds that work as antioxidants, such as flavanols, polyphenols, catechins, and many more. As a matter of fact, dark chocolate has been known to contain more biologically active antioxidants than blueberries and Açai berries!
This is all based on a measure called Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), which works by pitting a bunch of bad free radicals against certain food and observing how well the antioxidants in the food can disarm them. Needless to say, dark chocolate passes with flying colors.
2. Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients.
Good quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content are loaded with essential minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and many more. It is also a great source of soluble fiber – up to 11 grams in just a 100-gram bar!
3. Dark chocolate lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It has been observed that dark chocolate is particularly vigilant against the oxidation of LDL, or bad cholesterol. By consuming dark chocolate long term, you can then expect less cholesterol lodged in the arteries. This lowers the risk of heart disease considerably. How considerably? Well, research has shown that consumption of dark chocolate five or more times a week lowers the risk of heart disease by up to 57%!
4. Dark chocolate improves blood flow.
The flavanols found in dark chocolate have been known to increase the production of a gas called Nitric Oxide (NO), which is responsible for getting the arteries to relax. This, in turn, allows blood to flow more freely, thereby reducing blood pressure in the process.
5. Dark chocolate improves brain function.
High levels of flavanol also improve blood flow to the brain, which significantly improves cognitive function, as well as verbal fluency. Cocoa also contains caffeine and other stimulants, which also contribute to increased brain function.
6. Dark chocolate is great for your skin.
Dark chocolate has bioactive compounds that can protect your skin against sun damage, as well as increase blood flow to improve skin density and hydration.
Indeed, dark chocolate is undoubtedly a super food. And the best part is it’s delicious. Win-win!