Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Whether you want to believe it or not there are actually health benefits to eating chocolate. That’s right folks chocolate is healthy. Well, dark chocolate is anyway. The darker the chocolate the better. It’s when you throw milk into the mix that you dilute the following health benefits of dark chocolate.
- Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Antioxidant
Have you ever heard of the phrase “ORAC”? The word “ORAC” stands for “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity” and it basically measures the antioxidant properties of foods. It’s measured by scientists effectively making food and free radicals “fight” and seeing how well the food does. Dark chocolate has one of the highest ORAC ratings there is. Well, raw unprocessed cocoa beans do anyway. Dark chocolate is filled to the brim with powerful antioxidants that can help keep you healthy.
- Dark Chocolate Helps Regulate Blood Flow and Blood Pressure
All the flavonoids in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium, which is basically the lining of the arteries. This stimulation causes the production of the gas Nitric Oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is used to relax the arteries. This in turn allows blood to flow freer and reduces your blood pressure. Controlled trials have shown that cocoa and dark chocolate has a mild effect when it comes to opening up the blood vessels and lowing blood pressure.
- Dark Chocolate Helps Control Cholesterol
Eating dark chocolate can have an effect on several risk factors for heart disease. A controlled trial showed that eating dark chocolate greatly reduced the levels of oxidised LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in men. It also increased the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) while lowering LDL levels in men that suffered from elevated levels of cholesterol. LDL becomes oxidised when it interacts with free radicals. This makes the bad cholesterol even worse because it means it damages cells and tissues that it comes into contact with; in particular the lining in your arteries and heart. So you can see how important reducing the levels of oxidised LDL cholesterol is.
- Dark Chocolate can Protect Your Skin
As well as protecting the inside of your body dark chocolate can really help protect your skin from sun damage. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate can protect your skin from sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and keep the skin hydrated. How quickly it takes skin to redden after being exposed to UVB rays is called the minimal erythemal dose (MED). The higher the MED the longer your skin lasts when exposed to sun. A study showed that the MED of people who ate dark chocolate for 12 weeks doubled. So don’t forget the dark chocolate when you’re thinking about that summer vacation.
- Dark Chocolate Can Improve Brain Function
There’s one last great benefit to dark chocolate and that is that dark chocolate can improve brain function. A study involving healthy volunteers showed that eating cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain. Another study showed that dark chocolate could improve brain function in elderly people as well as improve verbal fluency and control disease risk factors. It also contains stimulants like caffeine that can keep you alert and sharp. At least in the short term.
There is still the major downside that dark chocolate is high in calories and fat so don’t think this is an excuse to eat it by the bucketful. Remember that everything is best in moderation. Adding some dark chocolate won’t make you fat and can have plenty of health benefits. It’s overdoing things that makes it all go wrong.