What Are The Benefits Of Eating Dark Chocolate?
Eating chocolate every day doesn't seem like a good idea, but when it comes to dark chocolate, treating yourself to a daily ounce may just be the biggest boost to your health yet.
Dark chocolate is considered a superfood. It contains high levels of antioxidants and nutrients that can help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and inflammation. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can also aid insulin sensitivity, which can reduce your risk of diabetes and even help you lose weight.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of dark chocolate. But as you can tell by now, yes, dark chocolate is good for you. And this article, we want to delve into why.
Before we talk about the benefits of eating dark chocolate, however, let's differentiate it from other types of chocolate:
What Is The Difference Between Dark Chocolate & Other Styles?
First and foremost, dark chocolate is dairy free. This alone leads to a whole host of benefits compared to traditional chocolate. For one, dairy free chocolate is the best option for lactose-intolerant individuals as well as vegans. But even if you are not lactose-intolerant or vegan, dark chocolate serves an amazing sweet treat without all the added sugar or dairy products.
You might be wondering, what does dairy-free chocolate taste like? The good news is it is still delicious - albeit a bit less creamy than what you're used to. Over time, you will learn how to appreciate the natural flavor and texture of dark chocolate; you might even find yourself favoring it over milk chocolate!
Another difference between dark chocolate and other types of chocolate is that it generally contains less added sugar. Varieties with higher levels of cacao solids contain even less sugar. However, the sugar content of dark chocolate can vary depending on the manufacturer. So, if you want to ensure that your dark chocolate has minimal sugar content, always check the nutrition label.
Alternatively, you can opt for diabetic chocolate bars--even if you aren't diabetic. This type of chocolate contains the least amount of sugar, which helps control blood sugar levels and prevent those dreaded sugar crashes.
So, What Are The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate?
Experts believe that eating an ounce of dark chocolate every day can provide many benefits to both your physical and mental health. But what exactly are the health benefits of chocolate? Let's go over them one by one:
Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The flavanols in dark chocolate encourage the production of nitric oxide in the body, which leads to the dilation (widening) of blood vessels and improves blood flow, therefore lowering the blood pressure. This helps prevent serious risks associated with high blood pressure, such as heart attack and heart failure.
Dark chocolate also contains compounds like polyphenols and theobromine that may lower LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and increase HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol). Having low LDL and high HDL levels helps lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you belong to an at-risk group of heart disease (e.g. having high blood pressure, being older, being overweight, etc.), the beneficial effect of dark chocolate may be more significant for you compared to healthier individuals.
Better Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is the hormone responsible for allowing glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy. When you have low insulin sensitivity, your body is not using up glucose as effectively as it should. This is also called insulin resistance. As a result, glucose is stored as fat and the risk of diabetes increases.
The polyphenols in dark chocolate may help improve insulin sensitivity, thus lowering the risk of diabetes as well as aiding in weight control.
Improved Brain Function
Dark chocolate may also help combat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. To illustrate, one study suggests that the flavanols in dark chocolate may improve neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to modify and adapt its function and structure as a response to experiences, such as an injury or disease.
Experts believe that thanks to its flavanol content, eating dark chocolate can also improve blood flow to the brain, which, in turn, can enhance brain function. Moreover, the caffeine and theobromine in cocoa can have a stimulating effect in the short term. This suggests that dark chocolate, which has a high cocoa content, can serve as a great pick-me-up when you need to focus on something.
While eating chocolate can improve anyone's mood, dark chocolate is known to be a better option if you want to feel a significant effect. In comparison with milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains higher levels of cacao, which means it has more of the compounds that make you feel good.
One such compound is an amino acid called tryptophan, which is responsible for producing serotonin in your brain, also known as the happy hormone. Furthermore, dark chocolate also contains higher levels of polyphenols; antioxidants that are known to reduce anxiety and depression.
Yes, you read that right. Dark chocolate can also help protect your skin from the sun. This is because of the flavanols it contains, which can help improve blood flow to the skin and increase its density and hydration.
Dark chocolate also contains cocoa butter. Cocoa butter comes with small amounts of Vitamin E, which is responsible for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and the immune system. So, if you're not already slathering cocoa butter on your skin, consider consuming it directly through dark chocolate.
Of course, eating dark chocolate alone is not enough to prevent sun damage, but it won't hurt to pack a bar along with your sunscreen before heading to the beach.
If there's a type of chocolate that can help you lose weight, it's probably dark chocolate. Unlike other types of chocolate, dark chocolate contains lower amounts of sugar and dairy. This fact alone makes it a healthier dessert if you're trying to lose weight.
And as mentioned earlier, dark chocolate aids in insulin sensitivity. If your body is more sensitive to insulin, the more it will be able to burn glucose for energy. As a result, less glucose is stored in the fat cells, and you will have an easier time burning calories and losing weight.
Dark chocolate is also linked to reduced appetite and hunger, as well as lower levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone). People who eat dark chocolate are more likely to feel full sooner and stay full longer than those who do not consume dark chocolate regularly. That said, having a bit of dark chocolate every day can help you control your hunger cues better, which is something that can help you eat just the right amount of calories you need per day.
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate Only Apply To Quality Dark Chocolate
Not all dark chocolates are made equal. Dark chocolate should be, in essence, as natural as possible. Unfortunately, many chocolate manufacturers add things like dairy products, dairy derivatives, and high amounts of sugar that diminish the health benefits of pure cacao.
That said, the benefits like better blood flow, reduced blood pressure, and better insulin sensitivity may not be present in just any type of dark chocolate. This is why it's important to choose the right type of dark chocolate; high-quality, dairy-free, and non-GMO chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa and has as minimal sugars as possible.
So, when picking out dark chocolate, choose a manufacturer that produces high-quality chocolates without the unhealthy ingredients. More than that, always check out the ingredient list; the shorter the list is, the purer the chocolate is. And when you're buying vegan or organic chocolate, look for the certification label to make sure it's the real stuff!
Final Thoughts On The Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can provide a huge boost to your health. Physically, it can help lower your risk of all sorts of diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Mentally, it can help you focus, reduce your stress levels, and even reduce your risk of neurodegenerative diseases. At the very least, dark chocolate can improve your mood without pumping your body full of sugar--and who wouldn't want a guilt-free treat?
So, yes, you now have more than a few excuses to eat chocolate every day. To reap the health benefits of dark chocolate, however, quality is the most important factor to consider. Look no further than MidDay Squares for your next guiltless guilty pleasure. With chocolates as healthy and as tasty as ours, you won't go back to your big-name brand ever again!