Due to its high mineral and antioxidant content, dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa may lower the risk of heart disease when it is eaten in moderation. A lot of sugar and calories might be in there, however.
When consumed in moderation, dark chocolate contains beneficial elements.
It’s one of the finest sources of antioxidants, and it’s made from the seed of the cacao tree.
The benefits of dark chocolate on health and cardiovascular risk have been well-documented.
The following are seven scientifically proven benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate.
1. Extremely Nourishing
The cocoa concentration of dark chocolate determines how healthy it is.
As a source of soluble fiber and minerals, it’s very useful.
Dark chocolate, often defined as cocoa content between 70 and 85%, typically comes in 100-gram bars, and a single reliable source reports that each bar contains:
In this case
- 11 grams of fiber
- A whopping 66% of the Daily Value for iron
- Magnesium at a 57% DV
- Copper at 196% of the Daily Value
- Manganese: 85% of the Daily Value
Potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are all present in high concentrations, too.
Obviously, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a lot, and you shouldn’t eat that every day. Besides the vitamins and minerals, there are also around 600 calories and some sugar included.
This is why consuming dark chocolate in moderation is recommended.
Cocoa and dark chocolate both provide a healthy balance of fatty acids. The fats are mostly oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid, all of which are good for your heart.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of stearic acid are nil. Even though palmitic acid makes up a big third of the fat calories in the average diet, it is linked to a rise in LDL cholesterol.
Even though caffeine and theobromine are stimulants, the amount in dark chocolate is very small compared to the amount in coffee, so it probably won’t keep you up at night.
2. It’s a Great Place to get Antioxidants
Oxygen radical absorbance capacity is abbreviated as ORAC. Basically, it’s a way to evaluate the health benefits of certain meals by looking at their antioxidant levels.
Scientists test how good the antioxidants in a food sample are by bombarding it with free radicals, which are bad.
These findings support the hypothesis that chocolate has a high concentration of antioxidants. ORAC levels are tested in a test tube, hence the results may not be applicable to the human body.
However, studies conducted on people have shown mixed results regarding chocolate’s antioxidant potential. However, experts believe there is insufficient evidence at this time (2 Trusted Source).
Dark chocolate has a lot of naturally occurring antioxidants because it has a lot of biologically active chemicals. Catechins, polyphenols, and flavanols are just a few examples. When paired with foods like almonds and cocoa, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help reduce certain kinds of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as shown by a study (3 Trusted Source).
Among the fruits that were looked at, such as blueberries and acai berries, cocoa and dark chocolate had the most antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols.
3. It has the potential to increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure
Flavonoids in dark chocolate have been shown to make the endothelium, which lines the arteries, make more nitric oxide (NO) (5).
Relaxing the arteries is one of NO’s roles, which decreases blood pressure by decreasing the barrier to blood flow.
Even though the effects of cocoa and dark chocolate on blood flow and blood pressure are often minor, they have been shown to exist in much-controlled research (6 Trusted Source, 7).
However, this should be taken with a grain of salt because a single study in adults with type 2 diabetes and hypertension found no impact (8 Trusted Source). It’s likely that adding cocoa flavanols to the diet won’t help those who are already being treated for high blood pressure.
In light of the substantial disagreements existing among existing studies, it is evident that greater investigation into this topic is required (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
4. Increases HDL and prevents oxidation of LDL
Several major risk factors for cardiovascular disease may be reduced by eating dark chocolate. It has the potential to prevent high cholesterol.
In a short research study, participants who ate dark chocolate fortified with the flavanol lycopene had significantly lower total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (11Trusted Source).
In the presence of free radicals, some kinds of LDL cholesterol are more likely to get oxidized. When the LDL particle oxidizes, it becomes reactive and can hurt different tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
Cocoa’s ability to reduce oxidation-prone LDL types makes perfect sense. Lipoproteins are protected from oxidative damage because of the high concentration of potent antioxidants they contain (3 trusted sources).
Flavanols included in dark chocolate have been shown to lower insulin resistance, another risk factor for chronic illnesses including heart disease and diabetes (12Trusted Source).
Unfortunately, the sugar in dark chocolate might have the opposite effect.
5. Possible Risk Reduction for Cardiovascular Disease
Studies have shown that the chemicals in dark chocolate may prevent LDL from being oxidized.
This should have a long-term beneficial effect of reducing the likelihood of heart disease by reducing the amount of cholesterol that builds up in the arteries.
The data suggests a significant improvement.
Multiple studies have found that eating flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health (13 Trusted Source).
Eating chocolate three times a week has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. Regular chocolate consumption provided no significant health benefits (14 Trusted Source).
Another study found that weekly consumption of 45 grams of chocolate reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%. Any weekly intake of more than 100 grams does not appear to have any health benefits (15 Trusted Source).
The LDL cholesterol levels of those who ate almonds, with or without dark chocolate, in a 2017 clinical experiment decreased (3Trusted Source).
All of these results are good news, but more research is needed to find out if the lower risk is because of the chocolate or something else.
6. As a bonus, it could shield your skin from the sun
Dark chocolate’s bioactive components could be good for your skin, too.
The flavanols protect the skin from the sun, increase blood flow to the skin, and make the skin thicker and more hydrated (16).
To have a reddish complexion 24 hours after being exposed to UVB rays, you just need to be exposed to the minimal erythemal dose (MED).
Dark chocolate or cocoa with a high flavanol content has been proven in studies to raise and even quadruple MED after being consumed for 12 weeks (16). Because of this, your skin is better able to handle the sun’s harmful effects.
Eat more dark chocolate in the weeks and months leading up to your beach trip. However, before ditching your regular skin care regimen in favor of eating more dark chocolate, you should talk to your doctor or dermatologist. In addition, keep in mind that chocolate is no substitute for sunscreen or other sun protection measures.
7. Potential to Enhance Cognitive Performance
The good news keeps coming. Even if it’s only dark chocolate, it could boost your brainpower.
Flavanol-rich cocoa has been shown to increase cerebral blood flow, according to research. That’s why it seems sensible that regular cocoa consumption boosts cognitive functions including memory, focus, and language ability (17Trusted Source).
Cocoa flavonoids may also help older people with mild cognitive impairment avoid dementia and keep their brains functioning normally. Nonetheless, more research is needed (18 Reliable Source).
Caffeine and theobromine, two stimulants found in cocoa, may also contribute to the beverage’s brief improvement in cognitive performance (19 Trusted Source).
There is a lot of evidence that cocoa has substantial health advantages, notably as a heart disease protector.
This is not to say that you should binge on chocolate every day. Still, it’s simple to consume too much of it because of the high-calorie content.
Try eating a few squares after supper and really appreciating their deliciousness. Making a cup of hot cocoa without any added sugar or cream is one way to get the health advantages of cocoa without consuming as many calories as chocolate.
Remember also that a lot of commercial chocolate is not quite healthy.
Select the finest: dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 70% or more. If you’re looking for the finest dark chocolate, you may wish to consult this resource.