Chocolate lovers around the world have every reason to smile and guiltlessly indulge in their favorite snack. Research has shown there are several health benefits that dark chocolate can provide, but the key is finding pure sources taken from the seed of the cocoa tree. You can’t substitute sugary candy bars or imitation chocolate as a nutritional snack, as the higher the levels of cocoa found in the chocolate the healthier it becomes. In spite of the calories it contributes to your daily diet, the benefits of dark chocolate for brain and overall body health are found in the high antioxidant content, as well as the mineral and fiber content.
More Than a Valentine Treasure
Not just the sweet treat desired in red hearts and gift boxes, sufficient intake of dark chocolate can give you fiber, iron, copper, and magnesium. So long as the cocoa content is higher than 70%, you also feed your body with manganese, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. There is a fatty acid component in dark chocolate, but there is just a small amount of polyunsaturated in addition to the healthy elements of saturated and monounsaturated fat. It can provide a small pick-me-up, as the sweet treat also has small levels of caffeine and theobromine.
Powerful Immune Defense
Researchers are always looking for ways to fight against free radicals, and the ORAC test measures oxygen radical absorbance capacity. This standard evaluates the antioxidant activity within a food. A raw unprocessed cocoa bean is one of the highest-scoring foods ever tested with the scale. Cocoa is high in organic compounds like flavonols, catechins, polyphenols, and several others that act as antioxidants. Blueberries and acai berries are some of the highest-rated fruits for antioxidant support, and one study has shown that cocoa beans have more antioxidant activities than these.
Improved Circulatory Needs
Dealing with high blood pressure is a dangerous way to live, and though you should never substitute your own plan against a doctor’s treatment, there are signs that the flavanols in high-quality cocoa beans can help with circulatory conditions like blood pressure and blood flow. Flavanols stimulate the lining of the arteries to increase the production of nitric oxide, a compound that sends a message to the arteries to relax and accept the blood flow. This stabilizes and reduced blood pressure. Improving your blood flow supports several areas of health, but check with your doctor before adding chocolate to your daily intake.
Reduced Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, but it also contributes to a significant number of male deaths as well. Research point to the ability of dark chocolate to reduce some of the leading factors that cause heart disease. In men, high oxidized LDL cholesterol levels can be reduced through the consumption of cocoa powder, and those with high cholesterol levels saw their total LDL lowered while increasing the HDL level. LDL is known as the bad cholesterol, and when it is oxidized, it means it has reacted to free radicals and is capable of causing damage to the lining of the heart’s arteries. Cocoa beans have also been shown to help reduce insulin resistance, benefiting those with diabetes and heart disease.
Secret Skin Protection
Taking a bar of quality dark chocolate on your summer vacation could have positive results on your skin. The flavanols increase the blood flow, which can improve skin density and overall hydration. These bioactive compounds can also protect against sun damage, so stock up on the tasty treat in the months and weeks before you plan to head to the beach.
As with any other sugary food, consuming dark chocolate in moderation is important for keeping the balance between helpful or harmful. However, with so many potential benefits, go ahead and pick up some high-quality cocoa for an afternoon treat.