Dark Chocolate Benefits – Get It In Your Diet!
Do you know about the amazing dark chocolate benefits? It’s the news we have all been waiting for… chocolate is healthy!
Well, dark chocolate that is before you start gorging on that milk chocolate bar you’ve been saving for a special occasion!
The reason being? Unlike other chocolate, it is produced without sugar.
Made from the seeds of the cocoa tree and full of phytonutrients (also known as flavonoids) dark chocolate, as a matter of fact, has MANY benefits.
With high levels of fibre, iron, potassium and minerals, it’s also pretty low in fat!
Raw cocoa beans are also extremely rich in antioxidants – scoring higher than fruit, green tea and red wine in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity levels.
Unfortunately, it isn’t all perfect though. Dark chocolate can still be calorific, so eating the whole bar might not be the best idea!
These are some of best reasons why you should choose dark chocolate next time you get that sweet craving…
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #1: It Prevents Diabetes & Can Help If You Suffer With Diabetes
‘How can associating chocolate and diabetes EVER possibly be a good thing?!’ we hear you cry. Well, a study published by journal Appetite found that people who eat chocolate and dark chocolate at least once a week had a lower risk of diabetes. Mad, right?
Apparently, dark chocolate contains these compounds known as polyphenols which contain antioxidant properties. This protects the body from damaging molecules. Research published in Endocrine Abstracts say that the polyphenols in dark chocolate can actually improve insulin sensitivity and the effectiveness of insulin in the body.
A result of this is more controlled blood sugar levels.
Correspondingly, people suffering with Type 2 diabetes may discover some benefits of eating the forbidden fruit!
ARYA Atherosclerosis conducted a study on people with Type 2 diabetes who consumed 25g of dark chocolate over the space of eight weeks. It was found that they had a lower blood pressure over time and a decreasing fasting blood sugar.
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #2: Helps With Weight Loss
Dark chocolate decreases cravings, meaning that we are less likely to snack. Hence, it can help weight loss if we don’t consume too much!
There are three hormones reported to curb appetite: insulin, leptin and ghrelin. Insulin controls how the sugar in your bloodstream is transferred to your body cells. Ghrelin is said to increase your appetite whereas leptin decreases your appetite.
A study in the Netherlands found that dark chocolate decreased insulin resistance together with lowered levels of ghrelin.
In a sixty minute experiment, twelve women consumed a 100-gram mixture of chocolate containing 85% cacao and 12.5g of sugar. In another sixty minute experiment, six of the twelve women only smelled the chocolate.
By the end, the women who had eaten or smelled the chocolate were reported to have a drastic reduction in ghrelin and appetite. In comparison, there was no reported changes in ghrelin or appetite levels for the control group.
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #3: It Can Improve Brain Function
A study has shown that dark chocolate actually helps increase the flow of blood to the brain.
There have been a lot of research findings that suggest that dark chocolate can benefit cognition and mood. Apparently, even a couple of servings of dark chocolate can help boost memory, mood and the immune system!
The Experimental Biology 2018 presented some curious findings:
‘We suggest that 48 g 70% cacao consumption with a concentration of antioxidant activity…is associated with subsequent [gamma wave] increase in the cerebral cortical brain….We suggest that this superfood of 70% cacao (organic cocoa beans from Tanzania) enhances neuroplasticity for behavioral and brain health benefits.’
2011 research shows that after eating dark chocolate for two hours, the participants have stronger memory and reaction time than those eating white chocolate. Due to the high levels of flavanol content with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in dark chocolate, this is one of the main reasons behind the result.
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #4: It Reduces Blood Pressure And Can Improve Blood Flow
Some studies show eating dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. This in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
A Harvard study suggests that eating just a square of dark chocolate a day can help to lower blood pressure for people suffering with hypertension.
Additionally, researchers have found evidence that suggests eating that wonderful cocoa can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one study, cocoa powder substantially decreases oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.
Of course, like anything, you can’t overdo your chocolate intake and medical advice will always tell you that moderation really is key! Dark chocolate, although full of benefits, does contain a lot of sugar and saturated fats.
Best to choose dark chocolate with the highest amount of cocoa and least amount of sugar. Experts recommend ‘70% cocoa’ and more.
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #5: It Can Relieve Depression
Reaching for a bar of chocolate when feeling blue isn’t anything groundbreaking, but dark chocolate stimulates our brains pleasure signals, making us feel less stressed.
Studies have found that eating dark chocolate can increase positive mood and decrease symptoms of depression. Medical professions characterise depression as a mental health disorder, creating prolonged low moods and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. It affects hundreds of millions of people around the world and has a serious impact on quality of life.
Dr Sarah Jackson of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care says:
‘This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.’
Apparently chocolate contains a number of ingredients which produce a feeling of euphoria similar to the effect of drugs such as cannabis.
(I mean, this doesn’t surprise us…we all get high on chocolate!)
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Dark Chocolate Benefits #6: It Halts The Ageing Process
Dark chocolate boosts the production of collagen which keeps skin plump and youthful. There has been research to suggest that cocoa beans have an anti-ageing benefit and can help to keep those pesty wrinkles at bay!
The cocoa extract protects the skin from wrinkles and dark spots.
Experts reveal a compound known as resveratrol rejuvinates old human cells. We find this compound in dark chocolate and red wine.
Maybe Bridget Jones had the right idea after all…
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Above all, observational studies are highly in favour of dark chocolate consumption. Nevertheless, in the short-term, too much chocolate consumption (no matter how good it is) leaves us with serious bloating.
If we moderate ourselves, the dark chocolate benefits are endless and can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet.
Now…all this talk of chocolate has got us salivating…time for a snack!