Happy National Chocolate Day!
We all love to indulge on chocolate. For many of us, it is our comfort food, our stress reliever, and our mood enhancer. But is it all that good for you?
Milk chocolate, although delicious, isn't packed with all of the good stuff you get in dark chocolate.
In large quantities, no, but there are actually proven ways in which dark chocolate is actually beneficial to our bodies.
Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, dark chocolate contains an abundance of nutrients that can greatly improve our health.
Contains Minerals. The higher the cocoa content in the dark chocolate, the more nutritious it is. A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa provides 11 grams of fiber, 67% of the daily value of iron, 58% of the daily value of magnesium, 89% of the daily value of copper, 98% of the daily value of manganese, and a whole lot of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. However, 100 grams of chocolate is something you should never consume at once as it has a lot of calories and sugar, so be sure to consume dark chocolate in moderation.
Contains Antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. One study actually showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contain more antioxidants than other fruits tested, blueberries being among them. In addition, studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have a lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.
Helps Improve Blood Flow And Blood Pressure. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the production of the gas nitric oxide. The nitric oxide sends signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and thus reduces blood pressure.
Has Been Proven To Raise Your “Good Cholesterol” And Lower Your “Bad Cholesterol.” Oxidized LDL (bad cholesterol) means that the LDL has reacted with free radicals, causing the LDL particle to be reactive and capable of damaging other tissues. Consuming dark chocolate lowers oxidized LDL because dark chocolate contains a large amount of antioxidants that flow through the blood and protect against oxidative damage.
May Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease. Dark chocolate has properties that make it very protective against the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol. This results in much less cholesterol infixed in the arteries, thus decreasing the occurrence of heart disease. Dark chocolate also prevents white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, which prevents the arteries from clogging and makes for a healthier heart.
Protects Your Skin From The Sun. The antioxidants in chocolate aim to destroy the free radicals in the body that build up when exposed to UV rays from the sun. These free radicals can cause the DNA to replicate and cause skin cancer. The flavonols in chocolate can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration.
Improves Brain Function. The flavanols found in dark chocolate help improve blood flow to the brain and are thought to reduce memory loss in older people. The anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate have been found to be beneficial in treating brain injuries. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which cause improved brain function in the short term.
Dark Chocolate = Happiness. Dark chocolate contains Phenethylamine, which is the same chemical that your brain generates when you’re falling in love, causing the brain to release feel-good endorphins. However, aside from the technicalities, how can we forget how great and savory chocolate tastes? …happiness.
So go on. Enjoy this delicious treat today. But remember to do so in moderation.