Moderate consumption of dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can provide antioxidants and minerals and may protect against heart disease. However, it may also be heavy in sugar and calories.
Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients that are beneficial to one’s health.
Made from cocoa tree seeds, it is one of the greatest sources of antioxidants available.
According to studies, dark chocolate can boost health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Here are seven scientifically documented health benefits of cocoa or dark chocolate.
If you get high-quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, it is quite healthy.
It has a substantial amount of soluble fiber and an abundance of minerals.
A 100-gram bar of 70% to 85% cocoa dark chocolate contains:
- 11 grams of protein
- 66% of the Daily Value of iron
- 57% of the Daily Value (DV) for magnesium
- 196% of the Daily Value for copper and 85% of the Daily Value for manganese
In addition, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are abundant.
Obviously, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a considerable quantity and should not be consumed daily. In addition to containing 600 calories and a reasonable amount of sugar, these nutrients are also nutritious.
Due to this, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation.
Also advantageous is the fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate. The majority of the fats are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is a heart-healthy fat that is also found in olive oil.
Stearic acid has no influence on the body’s cholesterol levels. Palmitic acid can increase cholesterol levels, yet it accounts for just one-third of the total calories from fat.
In addition to caffeine and theobromine, dark chocolate contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, however, the amount of caffeine is negligible compared to coffee.
Quality dark chocolate is abundant in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese, among other minerals.
Source of powerful antioxidants
ORAC refers to the capacity to absorb oxygen radicals. It’s a measurement of foods’ antioxidant activity.
Essentially, researchers expose a sample of food to a large number of free radicals (harmful) to see how well the antioxidants in the food can neutralize the free radicals.
According to these findings, cocoa is high in antioxidants. ORAC values are measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect on the body as they do in the test tube.
Human studies do not consistently provide the same spectrum of antioxidant properties for chocolate. However, experts think there is insufficient information to make a determination.
Organic substances that are biologically active and function as antioxidants are abundant in dark chocolate. These include, among others, polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. When coupled with foods like almonds and cocoa, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help reduce certain forms of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, according to a study.
A study revealed that cocoa and dark chocolate included greater antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruits examined, including blueberries and acai berries.
Cocoa and dark chocolate contain numerous potent antioxidants. In fact, they contain more than the majority of other foods.
May increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure
The flavonoids in dark chocolate can increase the production of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelium, the lining of the arteries.
One of NO’s tasks is to transmit signals to the arteries to relax, hence reducing the resistance to blood flow and blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies demonstrate that cocoa and dark chocolate can enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure, albeit in a modest manner.
However, one study involving individuals with type 2 diabetes and hypertension found no effect, so take this information with a grain of salt. It is likely that adding cocoa flavanols to the diet of those who are currently getting medication for high blood pressure will provide no extra benefit.
Given the wide difference between studies on this topic, it is evident that additional study is required.
The bioactive chemicals in cocoa may increase arterial blood flow and generate a slight but statistically meaningful reduction in blood pressure.
Increases HDL and prevents oxidation of LDL
consuming dark chocolate can improve numerous significant cardiovascular disease risk factors. It may prevent high cholesterol levels.
In a tiny research, consuming dark chocolate containing the flavanol lycopene dramatically decreased total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Some types of LDL cholesterol are more susceptible to oxidation, which occurs when they interact with free radicals in the body. Oxidation renders the LDL particle reactive and capable of causing damage to other tissues, such as the lining of your heart’s arteries.
It stands to reason that cocoa reduces oxidation-prone LDL types. It includes a high concentration of potent antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins from oxidative damage.
The flavanols in dark chocolate can also improve insulin resistance, a key risk factor for diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Nevertheless, dark chocolate contains sugar, which can have the opposite effect.
Several key disease risk factors are reduced by consuming dark chocolate. It decreases LDL which is prone to oxidation and increases insulin sensitivity.
May lower the risk of heart disease
It appears that the chemicals in dark chocolate are very protective against LDL oxidation.
This should result in significantly less cholesterol accumulating in the arteries over time, lowering the risk of heart disease.
In fact, evidence indicates a significant improvement.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that flavanol-rich cocoa and chocolate can reduce blood pressure and enhance cardiovascular health over time.
A systematic evaluation indicated that consuming chocolate three times per week reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. Consuming chocolate more frequently did not provide any significant benefits.
Another study found that consuming 45 grams of chocolate per week reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%. It does not appear that exceeding 100 grams per week has any health benefits.
The LDL cholesterol levels of participants who had almonds with or without dark chocolate improved, according to a 2017 scientific investigation.
Although these findings are encouraging, further data is required to determine whether or not the chocolate was responsible for the lowered risk.
Since the biological process (lower blood pressure and lower oxidation-prone LDL) is recognized, it is likely that consuming dark chocolate on a regular basis may minimize the risk of heart disease.
The use of moderate amounts of chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease, according to research.
May provide UV protection for the skin
Dark chocolate’s bioactive components may also be beneficial for the skin.
The flavonols can protect against sun damage, boost skin density and hydration, and promote blood flow to the skin.
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the smallest amount of UVB rays necessary to elicit skin redness 24 hours after exposure.
After 12 weeks of consuming high-flavanol dark chocolate or cocoa, the MED can grow and even double, according to research. Consequently, your skin is more protected from the sun.
Consider consuming additional dark chocolate in the weeks and months leading up to your beach vacation. Consult your physician or dermatologist before abandoning your normal skin care regimen in favor of consuming more dark chocolate. Remember that chocolate cannot substitute sunscreen or other sun protection measures.
The flavanols in cocoa can increase blood flow to the skin and protect it from UV damage, according to research.
Could improve brain function
The good news is not yet complete. Dark chocolate may also aid cognitive function.
Studies indicate that consuming cocoa with a high flavanol content can increase blood flow to the brain in young individuals. This may explain why cocoa appears to boost attention, verbal learning, and memory when consumed daily.
Additionally, cocoa flavanoids may assist maintain cognitive function in older persons with mild cognitive impairment and minimize the risk of developing dementia. However, more research is required.
In addition, cocoa includes stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, which may be a significant factor in its ability to temporarily boost brain function.
By increasing cerebral blood flow, cocoa or dark chocolate may enhance cognitive function. Also present are stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine.
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