Studies show that dark chocolate (not the sugary crap) can improve health and lower the risk of a heart disease.
Listed below are seven health benefits of eating a bar of dark chocolate.
1. Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious: 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.
The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.
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 compared to coffee.
2. Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants: Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants which is very good for the body. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.
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.
4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation: Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.
In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.
It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol.
Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.
This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.
In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.
It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.
In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.
Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.
6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun: The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.
The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.
7. Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function: The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.
One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.
Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
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