Most of us love chocolate and today I’m going to present some evidence to show you why you should have a small amount of DARK chocolate on a regular basis. I’m glad I finally confirmed these facts because lately I have been having a strong craving for chocolate and haven’t wanted to consume it because of my struggle to reduce my weight. However, now that I have these facts in front of me I’m going to get some and give myself a treat occasionally!
First of all you need to know that the chocolate that is good for us is NOT Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or anything similar). The chocolate I am talking about is DARK chocolate!
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.
See how your DARK chocolate craving can be good for you? But, not too much or it will inhibit your weight loss goals!!
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.
One study showed that cocoa beans and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.
The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.
It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.
Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
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. So the older you are the more dark chocolate you should eat, is what I gathered from this info! Finally, a reason to embrace my more mature age!
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. Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%. Yay!! I can have it every day of the week to reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease!
The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. Very important for those of us that spend a lot of time in the sun!! If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.
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. I can use all the help I can get in this area! I still have another 8 years of teaching my son before he graduates!
Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term.
The chocolate you should be looking for is organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Not always easy to find and definitely not at the local convenience store where you stop to get gas!
Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain. Yay!! This will help me as I prepare to cut sugar from my diet again!!
Small amounts of dark chocolate can cut your risk of heart attack because, like aspirin, chocolate has a biochemical effect that reduces the clumping of platelets, which cause blood to clot. Platelet clumping can be fatal if a clot forms and blocks a blood vessel, causing a heart attack.
Specially formulated raw cocoa powder has the potential to prevent cardiovascular disease in diabetics. When diabetic patients were given a special high-flavonol cocoa drink for one month, it brought their blood vessel function from severely impaired to normal. The improvement was actually as large as has been observed with exercise and many common diabetic medications. This may be true but I highly recommend not giving up your exercise routine and medication to eat dark chocolate! We need exercise to be healthy, too!
Researchers also discovered that a compound in dark chocolate, called epicatechin (a flavonoid), may protect your brain after a stroke by increasing cellular signals that shield nerve cells from damage. I wonder how many stroke victims this has been tested on?
A stroke is similar to a heart attack, but occurs when the blood supply to your brain becomes blocked or reduced, as opposed to blocking the blood supply to your heart. That said it would make sense that by giving patients that have had heart attacks dark chocolate they could improve their health, as well.
The following list shows just some of the health benefits of cocoa beans and dark chocolate:
- Anti-thrombotic, including improving endothelial function,
- Lowers Alzheimer’s risk,
- Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity,
- Reduction in C-reactive protein,
- Cardioprotective, including lowering blood pressure, improving lipid profile, and helping prevent atrial fibrillation,
- Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis,
- Improves gastrointestinal flora,
- Reduces stress hormones,
- Reduces symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts,
- Slows progression of periodontitis,
- Improves exercise endurance,
- May help extend lifespan,
- Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women
So you can see that DARK CHOCOLATE is really good for you in controlled quantities!! So the next time you are wanting something chocolate don’t go buy a cheap candy bar, go out and buy some good quality dark chocolate and eat small pieces of it. You will be improving your health and curing that chocolate craving, at the same time!