The next time a dark chocolate candy bar with nuts is calling your name – you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in its rich, smooth sweetness. Dark chocolate actually possesses a handful of health benefits that goes beyond tasting good and serving as a remarkable comfort food.
There’s no denying the power of chocolate, as it contains ingredients that stimulate the body in more ways than one. The serotonin found in dark chocolate works to decrease stress and combats depression. Other ingredients increase the production of endorphins, which fills your body with that unforgettable feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Other substances, such as theobromine and caffeine, contribute an energetic and pleasing boost of energy that lifts the spirits.
The Health Factors of Dark Chocolate
Since chocolate comes from a plant, it offers some of the same health benefits as dark vegetables. Like other plants, it contains flavonoids, which provide beneficial antioxidants to the body. Eat dark chocolate in moderation and you can lessen the damage of free radicals, which contributes to heart disease and causes your body to age at a faster rate. When compared to strawberries, you’ll be surprised to know that dark chocolate contains nearly eight times more antioxidants.
It’s the flavonoids in dark chocolate that also aids in maintaining a healthy blood pressure and helps create a balance in hormones throughout the body. Studies have proven that daily consumption of just a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure in patients that suffer high blood pressure. An up to 10% reduction in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) is also linked to eating dark chocolate.
However, many people shy away from chocolate because they feel it contains a lot of calories, but you’ll be pleased to know that some of the fats in chocolate are healthy. Oleic acid is the same healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, while stearic acid provides a saturated fat with a neutral effect on cholesterol. The saturated fat linked to raising cholesterol levels and increasing the risk for heart disease only accounts for one-third of the fat content in chocolate.
5 Stay-Healthy Chocolate Tips
From promoting a physically fit heart to serving the cardiovascular system, you don’t have to feel guilty about routinely eating a small bar of dark chocolate. A few suggestions to help you get the most out of dark chocolate health benefits include:
- Don’t exceed more than 100 grams (or 3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate per day in order to maximize health benefits.
- Choose dark chocolate containing a 65% or higher cocoa content.
- Resembling chocolate chips, many organic trail mixes contain raw cacao in the form of cacoa nibs – unroasted, unsweetened bits of healthy chocolate.
- Add raw organic cocoa powder to soy ice cream or refreshing smoothies.
- For a flavorful healthy treat, select dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, and natural flavorings.