7 Health Benefits Of Chocolate You May Not Know Of
If you're looking for a good reason to treat yourself to some chocolate, you're in luck. Today, we're going to list the most noteworthy health benefits chocolate offers!
Many people will tell you that chocolate is bad for you. They will say that chocolate can cause obesity, give you diabetes, contribute to poor skin, and so on.
These claims are true to a certain extent, especially when you eat low-quality chocolates packed with tons of sugar. But when you eat the right type of chocolate—one that's high-quality enough to leave you feeling satiated and satisfied so you avoid overeating—you will actually gain more health benefits.
So, how do we tell which is the right type of chocolate? Well, it all boils down to the ingredients that the brand uses and how much raw cocoa is actually in the chocolate.
If you're looking for a high-quality chocolate brand that is sure to give you all the benefits of chocolate, we'll share our favorites with you at the end of this article. Will all that said, let's first talk about the different types of chocolate and what makes them different.
Dark Chocolate vs Milk Chocolate vs White Chocolate: Which One Is Good For You?
All chocolates come from the cacao tree, but not all chocolates are made equally. There are three main types of chocolate: milk, dark, and white.
Milk chocolate contains at least 50% sugar and milk, and at most 50% raw cocoa. White chocolate doesn't actually contain any cocoa solids. Rather, it's made with cocoa butter, milk, and sugar.
Dark chocolate, as you can imagine, has the highest percentage of raw cocoa. It contains no milk and has the least amount of sugar. You will find some dark chocolate bars labeled as 60%, 75%, or 90% dark chocolate. That's how much raw cocoa is used in the chocolate bar as compared to the rest of the ingredients. The higher the percentage of raw cocoa, the better from a health standpoint.
Cheaper brands tend to add other unhealthy ingredients to their formulation. Some of these include butter fat, vegetable oil, and artificial flavors and fillers. This makes the percentage of raw cocoa much lower. And as you now know, this makes the overall quality of the chocolate lower too. Lesser quality means fewer health benefits.
Which Of The Three Types Of Chocolates Is Best For Your Health?
At this point, it should be pretty obvious which of the types of chocolate is best for your health - dark chocolate. All the health benefits of chocolate are in the cocoa. So, the more raw cocoa there is in your chocolate bar the better it is for your health. Among the three options, dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa.
Cocoa contains these naturally occurring chemicals found in plants called flavanols. The flavanols are a key player in all the health benefits of chocolate. Quality dark chocolate has 2 to 3 times more flavanols than milk chocolate does.
Now, without any further ado, let's get into the main health benefits of dark chocolate.
The Different Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate rich in flavanols will get you the most benefits. We've listed down all the scientifically proven benefits of flavanol-rich dark chocolate below:
Lowers Blood Pressure
When left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to all sorts of serious diseases and complications. Some of these include kidney disease, heart failure, stroke, and vision loss. In the U.S., the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 29% of the population or 75 million people have high blood pressure.
Luckily, high blood pressure or hypertension is not a permanent condition. There are steps you can take to get things back under control. However, prolonged high blood pressure may cause permanent harm to your heart. How does dark chocolate factor in?
One of the main benefits of eating chocolate rich in flavanols is its ability to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that flavanols boost the production of nitric oxide in the inner cell lining of the blood vessels. This helps the blood vessels relax, increasing blood flow, and lowering blood pressure (1, 2).
However, it is also important to note that a proper, well-rounded diet is the key to managing blood pressure. Along with dark chocolate, eating plant-based foods, healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, omega oils, etc.), lean meat, and low-salt meals can help lower your blood pressure.
Prevents Heart Disease & Stroke
Heart disease and stroke are often lifestyle-related conditions. Unhealthy diets, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and obesity are the most common risk factors.
Flavanol-rich chocolate does wonders for protecting the heart from diseases. Studies have linked daily dark chocolate consumption (about 6 grams) to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This is also possibly linked to how chocolate lowers blood pressure and inflammation in the body (3,4,5). One study even found that people who eat dark chocolate at least five times a week were able to reduce their risk of getting heart disease by 57% 6.
Enhances Brain Health & Mood
Aside from physical benefits, dark chocolate intake can also improve your mental health. When you eat chocolate, the pleasure and reward systems in your brain fire up. This results in lower stress levels and a better mood 7.
Not only that, but dark chocolate also helps improve your memory and cognition. A study conducted in 2018 found that eating 48 grams of organic chocolate with 70% cocoa increased the neuroplasticity in our brains 8. This is possibly due to the flavanols accumulating in the regions of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory 9.
Reduce The Risks Of Getting Diabetes
When you think of diabetes, you may instantly think of a diet with no sugar and no sweets. However, this is not the reality for those who live with diabetes, thankfully. Preventing and managing diabetes does not always require cutting out sugar altogether. You probably never imagined that chocolate would be able to prevent you from getting diabetes, but it can.
Studies have shown that consuming a healthy amount of dark chocolate can help reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is believed to be the main cause of insulin resistance, which is what can cause high blood pressure and of course, diabetes 10. One study showed that people who rarely consumed dark chocolate had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who eat dark chocolate at least once a week 11.
Helps With Weight Loss & Gut Health
It's true that when you eat chocolate, especially in excessive amounts, you are more likely to experience weight gain. But when you choose your chocolate wisely and eat in moderation, weight gain is not guaranteed. On the contrary, it can actually assist you with your weight loss journey.
When you eat dark chocolate, the flavanols send signals to your brain telling it that you're full. It basically satiates hunger and helps you avoid overeating.
Studies also show that dark chocolate acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics promote the production of nutrients for your colon cells. This leads to a better digestive system. As you can imagine, prebiotics are important elements of a comprehensive weight loss plan.
Nevertheless, portion control is key. Dark chocolate still contains a significant amount of calories, primarily from the fat and sugar content. Stick to 1 to 2 ounces a day, and eat it slowly. This way, your stomach has enough time to signal to your brain that you are satiated. This will help you avoid overeating.
Fights Free Radicals
Free radicals are harmful molecules in the body that attack other cells. Over time, these free radicals can lead to certain diseases. A few common diseases associated with excessive free radicals in the body include cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's disease. Fortunately, dark chocolate can help combat these free radicals.
The flavanols in cocoa are very rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids. These antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals trying to wreak havoc.
Studies show that people who consume chocolate rich in flavanols are less likely to develop cancers than people who don't consume them 13. Dark chocolate contains tons of different flavanols. But epicatechin and quercetin, in particular, are the two flavanols believed to be responsible for the cancer-fighting properties pure chocolate boasts.
Did you know that we actually have two types of cholesterol? There are high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). These are otherwise known as good and bad cholesterol, respectively. When your bad cholesterol reaches too high of a level, your arteries are more at risk of becoming clogged. This can lead to heart disease and hypertension, among other issues.
Several studies have shown how dark chocolate can help lower the bad cholesterol in your body. Simultaneously, the cocoa butter in chocolate increases good cholesterol levels 14. This 1-2 punch makes dark chocolate an invaluable dietary tool for keeping your cholesterol in check.
Cocoa butter has a similar property to olive oil known as oleic acid. It's a mono-saturated fat that helps increase your good cholesterol. In addition, the flavanols present in dark chocolate can help reduce insulin resistance. This is another risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.
However, excessive amounts of cocoa butter, along with the sugar in dark chocolate, can still do some harm. Hence, the key is to eat dark chocolate in moderation. The recommended portion is around 1 to 2 ounces a day at max. Eat more than that and you may be consuming too many calories, sugar, and fat.
Final Thoughts On The Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Well, there you have it - all the most noteworthy health benefits of eating chocolate. In case you needed an excuse to bite into that chocolate treat sitting on your desk or in your pantry, there you go! Keep in mind though, these health benefits only apply when eating high-quality, organic dark chocolate. The more processed your chocolate, the fewer health benefits you'll enjoy.
Thus, if it's health benefits you're after, you've got to find a chocolate bar made with only the best ingredients—and that's exactly what you'll get from a MidDay Squares chocolate bar!
Each MidDay Squares is made with USDA-organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, diabetic-friendly, and vegan-friendly ingredients. With MidDay Squares, you can enjoy chocolate completely guilt-free and reap the health benefits, too.
Want to learn why our organic chocolate is better for you? You can read all about it on our blog. The other great thing about MidDay Squares is you can eat alone as its own little dessert or you can even use it as a healthy substitute for baking chocolate. We've written a complete guide on how you can use our soy-free chocolate for baking, so make sure to check that out if you're feeling like whipping some chocolatey treats up.
We offer three different flavors—Fudge YAH, Peanut Butta, and Almond Crunch. Not sure which one you should get? You can try them all! We sell a 12-pack variety box where you can get 4 bars of each flavor. We guarantee that you'll fall in love with each one.