It took me a while to get used to the dark after growing up on milk chocolate. After hearing about all the health benefits of dark chocolate, I made myself eat the ones with 70% cacao, and after a while, I came to love it. I even wrote about some of those benefits for Prime when I interviewed the owner of Chocolate Secrets.
Heart Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
So now I am deluged with articles and research on the benefits of dark chocolate, which by the way, is produced by adding fat and sugar to cocoa and is considered dark when the concentration of cocoa is 70 to 99%. Wow — dark chocolate can now prevent heart disease and cancer – seriously!
Well, sort of. Over 300 scientific studies have shown that it may prevent and reverse heart disease by decreasing the amount of calcified plaque that clogs arteries, reducing high blood pressure, boosting good HDL cholesterol and reducing LDL. All of these factors may help prevent heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and even cut the risk of dying from heart disease in half.
Dark Chocolate Improves Blood Flow
Dark chocolate can also boost brain function, and those of us Prime women know that we can use all the brain boosting we can get. Consuming dark chocolate boosts blood flow to the brain, supplying brain cells with more oxygen and glucose. Those well-nourished neurons also perform better. Short-term memory and attentiveness can also improve, along with a decrease in mental fatigue. I am hoping it will help me with those “uh oh” moments when I know I went downstairs for something but can’t remember what it was!
And then there’s all of the research showing the link between cocoa flavanols and protection from skin aging. A recent paper by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC found that “Regular consumption of a chocolate rich in flavanols can be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects including skin cancer.” Dark chocolate also increased the flow of blood and oxygen to the skin, improving the appearance of the skin. Maybe a chocolate facial will help!
Best in Moderation
Now before you run out and stock up on dark chocolate bars, consider that most of the health benefits accrue to those eating 1.5 to 3 ounces of at least 70% cocoa beans per day. One and a half ounces of dark chocolate contains 220 calories, 12 grams of sugar, 5 mgs of salt, and 5 grams of fiber. If you really want more antioxidant content, buy cocoa powder, it has the highest concentrations of flavonoids of any dark chocolate product. You can put a scoop in a smoothie, almond milk, yogurt, etc.
If you want more info on studies and health benefits of dark chocolate, check out webMD, Cleveland Clinic, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, International Journal of Health Sciences, Harvard Medical School, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, etc. And enjoy a bit of dark chocolate every day with no guilt!