9 Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolates For You

Health Benefits Of Dark ChocolateThe health benefits of dark chocolates are being discussed and appreciated by several nutritionists these days than ever before.

Several recent studies have brought to light the healthy nutritional contents, antioxidants, and polyphenols that are amply found in this superfood with several health benefits.[1,2,3]  

The cacao seed in fermented, dried, cleaned and roasted form is called, “cocoa.”

Good quality dark chocolate is prepared with powder got from roasted, husked, and ground cacao seeds (cocoa). This is very different from other candies and chocolates that are made of ordinary cacao beans powder and other ingredients. So also, they differ in health benefits…. 

The best variety of cacao seeds is got from naturally and organically grown cacao plants. The cacao seeds contain one of the best anti-inflammatory and antioxidant elements known to us.

It can improve our health in several ways….let us take a look at nine major good health results you can expect from this food.

1. Dark Chocolates Are Very Nutritious And Healthy

 A good quality dark chocolate will contain approximately 70-85% pure and roasted cocoa seeds powder.[4]

You already know that cocoa is one of most nutritious edible seeds on the planet.

The below-given chart shows the amount of nutrition that is found in a dark choco bar that weighs 1 ounce.Dark Chocolate Nutrition

This superfood contains essential minerals like selenium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium. 

About 170 calories and 7 grams of sugar are present in a bar weighing 1 ounce. If you are overweight or dieting, it is better not to take more than 1 ounce (28gm) daily. One ounce of dark choco per day is ideal for all.

The cocoa seeds contain healthy fatty acids that are good for the health.

Just like the coffee beans cocoa beans to have a balanced amount of caffeine and theobromine in it; too much of it may cause insomnia in some people. 

It also contains Phenylethylamine, which is a slight antidepressant and stimulant similar to the body’s dopamine and adrenaline

A good bit of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid are also present in dark chocolate.

The nutrients in dark chocolate are mostly derived from the cocoa seed powder ingredient it.  

2. Dark Chocolates Help In Improving Healthy Cholesterol Level

Cocoa seeds contain the right elements that can greatly reduce the heart diseases caused by bad cholesterol (LDL).

It is the antioxidant properties present in cacao seed that helps in reducing the oxidization of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

On the other hand, the HDL (good cholesterol) level will increase with regular consumption of dark chocolates.[5]

The LDL cholesterol becomes toxic and harmful when they are oxidized due to LDL’s reaction to free radicals.

The oxidation of LDL also happens when the white blood cells actively try to digest the LDL cholesterol to protect the blood vessels.[6]

The LDL cholesterol will gradually damage blood vessel tissues and also causes plaques on the walls of arteries. It is the sudden outburst (rapture) of fully grown plaques that leads to heart attacks.[7,8]

The antioxidants present in cacao helps in reducing oxidization of LDL.

The anthocyanidin (a type of flavonoids) antioxidant in cacao beans is capable of protecting lipoproteins from damages due to oxidation.[9,10,11]

Another good effect of dark chocolates is its ability to reduce the insulin resistance. It again acts as a boon in preventing Type II diabetes and heart diseases that happen due to insulin resistance.[12,13]

It is good to have 1 ounce of dark chocolate every day as part of your diet. It is good for diabetes control and preventing heart diseases.dark chocolate lowers bad cholesterol

3. Dark Chocolates Help In Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure

Some studies conducted on dark chocolates shown its ability to reduce high blood pressure.

The flavanols (a type of phytonutrients) in dark chocolate stimulates the endothelium cells to produce Nitric Oxide.[14]

The Nitric Oxide plays a crucial role in making the arteries reduce the resistance to blood flow. The blood pressure is normalized when artilleries exercise minimal resistance to the blood flow.  

A study, which analyzed 24 dark chocolate studies involving a total of 1,106 people, found verified evidence on the good effects of cocoa on lowering blood pressure. It also noted that all participants were also able to get rid of hypertension.[15]

Other individual studies have also noted significant effects of dark chocolates on improving blood flow at healthy levels of blood pressure.[16,17,18]

Of course, the study reports also show that the lowering of blood pressure was not identical to all the participants… some participants did not show any difference in blood pressure after regularly having the dark chocolates.[19]

4. Dark Chocolates Rich In Antioxidants

Cacao seeds are widely known for the antioxidant properties contained in it.

A lot of studies are conducted on this seed… one report ranks this seed very high on the antioxidant capacity tests of foods.

A good dark chocolate contains cocoa powder; about 80% of its total weight. So…the dark chocolates too have all the antioxidant properties found cocoa, viz. Flavanols, polyphenols, and catechins.[20]

In fact, no other natural fruits or seeds have as many antioxidant properties as the cacao seed.  Not even the Acai Berry and Blueberries can compete with it.[21]

These antioxidants play a significant role in fighting free radicals; it even produces anti-cancer chemicals.antioxidants in chocolate

 5. Dark Chocolate Improves The Health Of The Heart And Fights Cardio Vascular Diseases

We had already discussed that how antioxidants in dark chocolate are helpful in neutralizing the effects of LDL cholesterol.

It helps in reducing the LDL cholesterol from getting lodged onto the walls of arteries, and this will prevent the occurrence of various cardiovascular diseases.

Some studies indicate how the consumption of 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily has helped people to reduce the bad effects of LDL cholesterol.

One study showed that having dark chocolates 2 to 3 times a week was effective in removing plaques caused by the LDL cholesterol from the walls of the artery in 32% of cases. However, daily consumption of this bars showed no difference in results in some cases.[22]

The nine-year-long observational study conducted on 31,000 Swedish women, who had dark chocolates of two or three servings per week, cut the heart ailments as much as a third. 

Another observational study showed 57% decrease in cardiovascular diseases when 1 ounce of dark chocolate per day was consumed five times in a week for a prolonged period.[23]

One observational study that lasted over 15 years with 470 elderly men as participants showed above 50% lower rate of death due to cardiovascular diseases.

However, it is not a medically guaranteed fact that dark chocolates can prevent the occurrences of cardiovascular disease.

Since the properties in cacao seeds are proven to have the capacity to reduce blood pressure and reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol, it is natural that this will indeed reduce cardiovascular diseases too.

It must also be noted that the good results from any good diet like this chocolate, the person must follow a healthy lifestyle as well. That is to say, one who has regular workouts and physical activities will benefit more from this diet.chocolates reduces cardiovascular diseases

6. Dark Chocolates Can Help In Weight Loss

It is true that dark chocolates contain a good lot of calories, about 170 calories per 1 ounce. However, dark chocolate is also a good weight loss diet for more than one reason.

The dark chocolates are far more filling and satiating than most diets. After having a serving (1 ounce) of dark chocolate, you can go on for hours without craving for more food.

It is also a good option to occasionally to substitute your snacks or a meal with one serving of dark chocolate instead. You can have 1 ounce of this super-food daily with no fear of weight gain.

The nutrients in this food also improve metabolism besides suppressing your appetite.

The only healthy amount of fat and sugar is found in this chocolate. It is the healthy saturated and monounsaturated fat that is found in it.

It also helps in improving healthy cholesterol levels in the blood and helps in reducing insulin resistance. Both these health benefits also help in weight loss.[24]

7. Dark Chocolates Reduces Stress And Anxiety  

UC San Diego researchers have reached a significant finding on the effectiveness of dark chocolates in lowering stress and anxiety.[24]

Probably in your college or school days, you might have been advised by your counselor to have chocolates when you are over stressed with studies and exam fear. Now those suggestions by the counselor have the scientific backings as well.

The dark chocolates contain Phenylethylamine, which is a slight antidepressant and stimulant similar to the body’s dopamine and adrenaline

A group of scientists from Switzerland found that when an ounce of dark chocolate is consumed by very anxious and stressed people regularly for a couple of days; they quickly get back to normalcy.[25]

According to research published in 2009 in the journal, “Proteome Research” eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks helped in reducing the level of stress hormone cortisol.[26]

8. Dark Chocolates Improves Mental Power And Brain Functioning

There are a lot of people who search for supplements that boost mental power and brain functioning. One of the solutions they can adopt is to have an ounce of dark chocolates every day. 

The high-flavanol rich cocoa content in this food increases better blood flow to the brain. There are study results that prove this is true.[26]

Several studies done on benefits of cocoa have proved the effectiveness of this food in improving the cognitive function, especially in the mentally impaired elderly people. They can gain better cognitive power and improved verbal fluency with this food.[27]  

The cocoa is also rich in stimulants like theobromine and caffeine; these two substances also have some impact on improving the functioning of the brain.[27,28]dark chocolates improves brain functioning

9. Dark Chocolate Rejuvenates Skin And Protects It From UVB Rays

Regularly having one serving of dark chocolate is going to make your skin look beautiful and healthier.

The bioactive component like the flavonols in this cocoa can protect your skin from the damages caused by the UV rays of the sun. Your skin also becomes supple and hydrated with increased flow of blood to the skin.[29]

The damaging effect of the UV light on your skin depends upon the level of skin sensitivity your skin has.  The sensitivity and UV light toleration capacity of your skin are determined by minimal erythemal dose (MED) testing.

Individual studies have proven that MED measure increased by more than double in persons who had a regular intake of flavanols for 12 weeks.[30,31]

It is good to have dark chocolates regularly to give skin the internal capacity to resist the damaging effect of the UV rays of the sun.

The Bottom Line

We have just seen couple major health benefits of dark chocolates. There are still more benefits like:

  • Anti-inflammatory power
  • Anti-carcinogenic power
  • Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
  • Reduction in C-reactive protein
  • Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis
  • Improves gastrointestinal flora
  • Reduces symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts
  • Slows progression of periodontitis
  • Improves exercise endurance
  • Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women

The list of health advantages can be made still longer because of the several essential nutrients and vitamins naturally present in cocoa.

However, overeating of dark chocolate is not going to be healthy either. Many end up getting addicted to the cocoa bar because of its delicious taste.

The high calories content in this variety of chocolate can bring you a hoard of other health issues if you eat a lot.

Ideally, you should limit the daily consumption of dark chocolate to 1 ounce and not more than this.

You should make sure that you choose the best quality dark chocolate that contains 70 to 85% pure cocoa and less than 8 grams of sugar for the best health benefits.

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  1. Trina Periera August 23, 2015
  2. Candy Byrholdt June 28, 2015