Chocolate aint alllll bad….In fact, the right type can be extremely good for you. Below are three health benefits of the good stuff. But you’ve gotta head to the ‘dark side’.
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health.
Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the face of the earth.
Studies show that dark chocolate (yes dark, not milk or white) can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease.
How? Here are 3 ways in which eating chocolate now and again can help prolong your life.
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.
It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
· 11 grams of fiber.
· 67% of the RDA for Iron.
· 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
· 89% of the RDA for Copper.
· 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
· It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and NOT something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.
For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed ONLY in moderation.
The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated.
It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small in comparison to coffee.
To summarise, quality dark chocolate is rich in fibre, manganese and iron. It can aid your body with these vital nutrients.
Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC?
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.
Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.
The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.
However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested.
3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.
However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.