Unfortunately, not all chocolate is good for you. Cocoa loses nutrients during processing, so the more processed the chocolate, the fewer health benefits it offers. Chocolate also contains added ingredients to balance the strong taste of cocoa; sugar, oil, and milk are some of the elements commonly added to chocolate. These additional components usually increase the fat and sugar content which minimizes the health benefits. Therefore, dark chocolate is a better choice than milk chocolate.
Possible Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Sticking with dark chocolate with minimal processing provides a variety of health benefits. The following are some of the possible benefits of dark chocolate:
- Improve heart health — Small amounts of dark chocolate can help your heart by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and helping reduce the formation of blood clots. It may also help prevent hardening of the arteries known as arteriosclerosis.
- Promote brain health — Increased blood flow and reduced risk of blood clots is also great for your brain and can help boost cognitive function and reduce the risk of stroke.
- Boost mood and alertness — Chemical compounds in chocolate encourage the brain to release endorphins which have a positive effect on mood. The small amount of caffeine found in chocolate also boosts brain function and alertness.
- Regulate blood sugar — Flavonoids help lower insulin resistance so your cells are better able to use insulin efficiently and function normally.
- Protect against free radicals — As mentioned above, the antioxidants in dark chocolate help protect the body from the damaging effect of free radicals.
- Increase HDL and reduce LDL — Dark chocolate may help raise the level of HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce the level of LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Stronger teeth — The theobromine found in chocolate may help harden tooth enamel, leaving you with stronger teeth and lowering the risk of cavities. Of course, that doesn’t mean dark chocolate is a substitute for brushing your teeth.
- Sun protection — Another surprising potential benefit of dark chocolate is sun protection. Flavanols encourage blood flow to the skin, increase skin hydration and density, and may help protect against damage from the sun.
Enjoying Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a wonderful way to do something good for your body that is also a real treat, but moderation is key. Overeating even the healthiest chocolate isn’t good for you, so check the serving size before munching and stick with a small amount.
Everyone likes a treat now and then, and dark chocolate is a great way to indulge that’s good for you in small amounts. So grab a bar of healthy dark chocolate and enjoy a piece for your taste buds and your health.