It’s not very often that the benefits of a treat like chocolate can be talked about as something that could improve your health. Those of us with a sweet tooth may be a bit disappointed that all these healthful benefits don’t apply to our beloved milk or white chocolate, but for must of us, eating dark chocolate is better than eating no chocolate. Dark chocolate definitely has a more “earthy” and intense chocolate flavor than other chocolates, and some people prefer it. These are a few of the health benefits you can enjoy while eating dark chocolate.
1. A Nutritious Treat
Let’s start with the basics. Dark chocolate is loaded with good stuff, including a good dose of minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. It also has fiber which will aid digestion. Who knew that chocolate could contain so much good stuff?
2. Healthy Skin
Dark chocolate is helpful to skin health for a number of reasons, which include reduced moisture loss, protection from the sun, and increased blood flow in the small blood vessels called capillaries that are closer to the surface of the skin. An additional bonus for milk chocolate lovers is that it also was shown to help reduce damage from the sun.
3. Dental Health
This might sound a bit crazy since we are so accustomed to hearing about things like candy and chocolate as being damaging to teeth, but remember that dark chocolate is typically not as sweet as other chocolate, and it is the sugar that is responsible for eroding teeth. It’s the cocoa in dark chocolate that actually helps protect teeth due to the fact that it has antimicrobial properties that can destroy bacteria that causes tooth decay.
4. Curbs Hunger
In another finding that seems like it could have come straight from Bizarro World, scientists have determined that simply smelling dark chocolate can curb appetite. This is because the smell of the chocolate stimulates a hormone called ghrelin, which can suppress feelings of hunger for up to an hour. It’s obvious that less hunger is helpful for those trying to lose weight to improve their overall health.
5. Brain Power
Add dark chocolate to the list of foods that help your brain function better. Eating dark chocolate boosts blood circulation which helps improve the ability to concentrate and focus on tasks. Studies have shown that eating just a small piece of chocolate once a day for five days resulted in better blood flow to the brain, and improved cognitive function.
6. Reduce Stress
Stress and anxiety can lead to more cortisol production in the body, which can then lead to serious health problems such as the development of visceral fat that tends to accumulate around vital organs. It can also lead to other more serious mental health problems such as depression. Medical research has shown that eating about an ounce of dark chocolate every day for two weeks decreased cortisol levels.
7. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that can lead to serious health problems like stroke and heart attack, so eating chocolate as a way to lower blood pressure sounds almost too good to be true. It turns out that eating chocolate can stimulate arteries to release Nitric Oxide, which causes the arteries to relax and lower blood pressure as a result. The effect that dark chocolate has on lowering blood pressure is not dramatic, but chocolate is a nice bonus and combined with other methods used to lower blood pressure, it can only help.
8. Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a disease that appears to be taking the western world by storm these days. Our diet of over-processed, sugary foods is likely the cause, and eating some dark chocolate might be a tasty way to fight back. The flavonoids that are in dark chocolate can help the body’s cells process insulin more efficiently, and help prevent cells from sending the wrong signals that cause increased insulin production that isn’t required.
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which can help protect cells from what’s known as free radicals that damage the cells, and may even be a cause for cancer. Since cell damage can also accelerate aging, the protection dark chocolate offers against free radicals may slow the effects of aging.