The Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate has always been regarded as an occasional indulgence. New research shows that despite the high fat content, there remain many health benefits to eating dark chocolate in moderation.
Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots and improve brain perfusion and cognitive function, while decreasing the risk of stroke and preventing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). According to a study published in the European Heart Journal, German researchers found people who had an average of six grams of chocolate per day (one square of a chocolate bar) had a 39 percent lower risk of either a heart attack or stroke.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate have protective effects against type 2 diabetes and help reduce insulin resistance. Dark chocolate is also loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.
It is also an appetite suppressant! Just a little dark chocolate helps to lower your cravings because the bitter taste signals the body to decrease your appetite. Furthermore, the steric acid in dark chocolate helps slow digestion to help you feel fuller longer. If dark chocolate is too bitter for you, try having a piece with a cup of black coffee—it’ll bring out the sweetness!
Best of all, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier!
In the case of chocolate, it is unlikely that more is better, as the sugar and fat in most chocolate can lead to weight gain if not carefully monitored. To get the maximum benefits of chocolate for the fewest calories, eat dark chocolate bars that have a high percentage of cocoa. Choose chocolate that is at least 60 percent cocoa, and as you become accustomed to the flavor, gradually increase the percentage of the chocolate in your treats, easing up to bars that are 70, 80 or even 90 percent pure cocoa, sometimes spelled “cacao” on packaging.
Go ahead — fall in love with dark chocolate and indulge, in moderation, for your improved health.