Learn about the sweet ways this treat can boost your health!
For many people, chocolate is one of life’s greatest pleasures! And thanks to the health benefits of dark chocolate, you don’t even have to call it a “guilty” pleasure. Research shows that indulging (in moderation) can offer some pretty great perks for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
The health benefits of dark chocolate include:
- Boosting heart health
- Improving cognitive ability
- Supporting your body with minerals
- Keeping your skin youthful
- Lowering stress and lifting your mood
- Aiding healthy digestion
- Protecting against cancer
- Lifting your mood
Let’s take a bite of these chocolatey health benefits below!
Boosts heart health
The key to a lot of the health benefits of dark chocolate lies in its high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are plant compounds that can exert a powerful antioxidant effect on the body. Since dark chocolate contains more cacao than other types like milk and white chocolate, it’s much richer in the flavonoids that cacao contains.
These compounds have been studied for their effect on cardiovascular health. They indicate a decreased risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure for dark chocolate consumers!
Improves cognitive ability
Why go to school when you can eat chocolate instead? Okay, so it may not do all the intellectual heavy lifting for you, but research shows that the flavonoids in dark chocolate can enhance cognitive processing, learning, and memory. The higher the cacao content, the better the effects — aim for a bar with at least 70% cacao!
Supports your body with minerals
While you certainly can take a multivitamin once a day if your doctor advises, it’s even better to get your vitamins and minerals from whole foods. And dark chocolate can certainly fit into that plan! Dark chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium and iron, and a good source of zinc and selenium. These keep your body in balance and can support your immune system and sleep.
Keeps your skin youthful
Some of the minerals in dark chocolate are also good for your skin! For instance, zinc and selenium help protect the skin from UV rays from within, almost like a natural sunscreen (but enjoying a piece of dark chocolate should not be considered a substitute for applying sunscreen — you should still use sunscreen and just enjoy the skin health boost chocolate can offer!).
Dark chocolate can also contain manganese, which combats aging by boosting collagen production and supporting fast wound healing.
Lowers stress and lifts your mood
You may find yourself reaching for chocolate after a stressful day — but did you know there’s science behind why this sweet treat can be so comforting? As a byproduct of dark chocolate’s cognitive benefits, some small studies indicate lowered stress levels and a happier mood. Plus, the antioxidants help fight oxidative damage that can make our bodies feel anxious and just “off.”
Chocolate should only be one occasional tool in your arsenal of stress-fighting tactics – learn about other tips for managing stress here!
Aids healthy digestion
Our gut microbiomes rely on various types of fiber to stay in balance and support efficient digestion. One type of helpful fiber is called “prebiotic” — and it just so happens that dark chocolate acts as a prebiotic fiber during the digestion process! Eating dark chocolate can also add helpful bacteria to your gut microbiome.
Protects against cancer
Those flavonoids we keep mentioning? Yep — they may even be able to help shield you from high cancer risk! Like other antioxidants, they can help reduce cell damage which can lead to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends choosing dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao, since this minimizes the sugar and saturated fat content in the treat.
Looking for some creative ways to enjoy a daily dose of chocolate? Our list of Valentine’s Day dessert recipes has a few ideas that might fit the bill, from chocolate-covered fruits to black bean brownies!
For more health and wellness content and fun recipes, keep reading the CapTel blog!