Dark chocolate delights the taste buds with its rich, decadent flavor. Whether it’s a succulent strawberry dipped in deep, dark chocolate or a dark chocolate candy bar, eating chocolate high in cocoa content actually offers specific health benefits for your body.
Dark chocolate will contain at least 60 percent or higher cocoa solids and may also be termed semi sweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate.
“Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that belong to an antioxidant group called polyphenols.
Polyphenols have been determined to play a huge role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers,” states the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Foods such as dark chocolate, as well as red wine and tea, contain enough polyphenols to be considered antioxidant rich. Flavonoids also help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Benefits cholesterol levels
The higher cocoa content in dark chocolate may benefit cholesterol levels in a good way.
The higher cocoa levels of dark chocolate contain stearic acid, a saturated fat that does not raise cholesterol levels. The dark chocolate contains oleic acid as well, which is a monounsaturated fat (MUFA or good fat) that also does not raise cholesterol level and may even reduce bad cholesterol.
Heart healthy, stroke reducing
Researchers from Louisiana State University recently released findings that stated dark chocolate specifically benefits the heart.
Cocoa powders were tested in a model of a human digestive tract and it was determined that the specific bacteria that lives in the stomach, eat dark chocolate and ferment it before converting it into anti-inflammatory compounds that directly help the heart and may even lead to a reduced risk of stroke.
Improves your mood
It’s easy to simply look at a piece of rich, dark chocolate and instantly feel happier. Actually eating that piece of dark chocolate also can improve your mood physically as your serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain increase while enjoying the chocolate.
Indulging in dark chocolate also has been known to act as stress reliever.
Weight loss aid
Choosing dark chocolate versus white or milk chocolate may benefit your weight loss goals. It has been determined by researchers at the University of Copenhagen that eating dark chocolate satiates your hunger faster than indulging in a piece of white or milk chocolate.
Typically, one-ounce servings are recommended and contain (for a 60 to 69 percent cocoa content) 164 calories and 10 grams of fat.
Dark chocolate now part of the Food Pyramid
The Healing Foods Pyramid, a food pyramid focusing on a whole food, plant-based diet includes food such as dark chocolate.
This food pyramid, according to the University of Michigan Health System, “emphasizes foods that nourish the body, sustain energy over time, contain healing qualities and essential nutrients and support a sustainable environment.”
For its full health benefits, it is recommended to eat one ounce per day but no more than seven ounces per week.