Everyone loves a bit of chocolate from time to time and it turns out that this might be good thing! Organic dark chocolate is believed to have several health benefits if eaten in moderation, i.e. 1 to 2 squares a day. To provide these benefits, the chocolate must be made of at least 70% cocoa. We explore some of the known health benefits below:
- It’s nutritious
Not only does it taste good but dark chocolate also contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and potassium. All of these are vital nutrients needed by the human body in order to function optimally.
- It can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
Dark chocolate contains flavanols which stimulate the lining of your arteries to produce the gas nitric oxide (NO). One of the functions of NO is to send signals for the arteries to relax, which lowers the body’s resistance to blood flow, consequently helping to reduce blood pressure.
- It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease
Compounds in dark chocolate protect against the oxidation of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. This means that, in the long term, less cholesterol will lodge in the arteries which then lowers the risk of heart disease. A study showed that eating dark chocolate 5 or more times a week helped to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.
- It protects your skin
The flavanols found in dark chocolate can help to protect your skin from sun damage; it also helps to improve blood flow, increase skin density and hydration. However, it is always recommended that you wear sun cream to help prevent the damage caused to your skin by harmful UV rays.
- It could improve brain function
A study of volunteers showed that after 5 days of eating high-flavanol chocolate, there was improved blood flow to the brain, which supports brain function. Flavanol itself is an antioxidant which is also found in high concentrations in green tea and is extremely important to maintain a healthy body.
- It makes you feel better
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins (which is why we sometimes crave chocolate when we’re feeling down and why it acts as a pick-me-up at these times). It’s also the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love!
Overall, if eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can have lots of health benefits. However, be sure not to overindulge as the high sugar and saturated fat content can also have a negative impact on your health over time.