Are there any health benefits of chocolate? It’s a natural plant, so there is bound to be some nutritional benefit, right? A while back we posted an article about the health benefits of coffee. Today, we’re tackling another common food “vice-” chocolate.
Under the right circumstances and prepared correctly, dark chocolate provides several surprising health benefits to chocolate consumers. Of course, as with anything, moderation is best. Don’t take this as permission to snack on chocolate kisses all day long!
4 Health Benefits of Chocolate
Here is what science has to say about the health benefits of dark chocolate:
Chocolate Has Many Nutrients
When in its natural form, cocoa contains a lot of nutrients. Of course, the further away you get from natural cocoa, the fewer nutrients will be in your chocolate. So, that candy bar you bought at the gas station will not provide the same benefits as eating raw cocoa beans. Experts recommend choosing a chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content if you want to receive any of the health benefits.
In 50 grams of dark chocolate with 70 percent cocoa, you will find:
- 5 grams of fiber
- 35 percent RDA for iron
- 45 percent RDA for copper
- 30 percent RDA for magnesium
- 50 percent RDA for manganese
Dark chocolate also contains small amounts of zinc, selenium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Even though dark chocolate does contain these minerals and nutrients, it still also contains a large number of calories and high sugar content. This means you shouldn’t rely on dark chocolate as a regular source of nutrients.
If you like chocolate you might like to make Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream – a non-dairy treat!
Chocolate May Boost Your Brain Power
Dark chocolate not only provides a variety of minerals and nutrients, some studies suggest that it may improve cognitive function.
A study from 2012 published in the journal “Hypertension” found that elderly patients with mild cognitive decline who regularly ate 990 mg of chocolate flavanols daily for 8 weeks showed significant cognitive improvement on verbal fluency tests, trail making test, and a mental state examination. The study participants also showed reductions in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and lipid peroxidation.
Chocolate Souffle Day is Feb 28 but you can enjoy these chocolate souffle recipes any time of year!
Eating Chocolate Helps Your Heart
Chocolate contains massive amounts of antioxidants, which protect against LDL cholesterol oxidation. This means that chocolate can actually prevent the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.
One study from 2006 conducted by Wageningen University in The Netherlands found that men who consumed cocoa regularly for 15 years had a 50 percent reduction of cardiovascular death risk and all-cause mortality.
How about a little bit of dark chocolate in a cookie? Here’s a healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Dark Chocolate May Prevent Sunburn
Everyone knows that burning in the sun is bad for your skin, but not getting vitamin D is possibly worse. This makes the choice between staying in the sun and risking sunburn or avoiding the sun altogether difficult. Some research suggests that consuming dark chocolate regularly reduces your risk of getting sunburned.
The flavanols in chocolate improve the minimal erythemal dose (MED), which is the amount of UVB rays that cause redness in the skin 24 hours after exposure to sunlight.
A study from 2009 published in “The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” found that in a study group of 30, when individuals consumed dark chocolate for 12 weeks, their MED levels increased by over 50 percent.
Dark Chocolate: A Health Food?
Dark chocolate does contain a variety of beneficial health nutrients, but since it is often served with high levels of fat and sugar, it doesn’t really count as a health food. However, eating raw cocoa and eating the occasional piece of sweetened chocolate may actually improve your health.
Have you noticed chocolate benefiting your health?