Do you love chocolate? Made from cacao tree seeds, it’s no surprise that dark chocolate has some amazing health benefits. From helping improve cardiovascular health to fighting off infection, dark chocolate is definitely a superfood worth incorporating into your diet. Want to learn more? Keep reading for seven of the best health benefits of dark chocolate!

High nutritional value

High quality chocolate with a high cocoa content actually has a good nutritional value. Along with potassium, phosphorous, zinc and selenium, 100gms of good quality dark chocolate also contains:

  • 67% RDI of iron
  • 58% RDI of magnesium
  • 89%RDI of copper
  • 98% RDI of manganese
  • 11 grams of fibre

However, it is not recommended that you eat 100gm of dark chocolate a day as these nutrients also come with a 600 calorie content. As such, you should consume dark chocolate in moderation.

Along with the health benefits of dark chocolate also contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, but due to its low caffeine content, it is unlikely to produce the ‘staying-awake’ feeling at the same strength as coffee.

Improve HDL (good) cholesterol

Cocoa powder was observed to significantly decrease total LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol in participants with high cholesterol.

Great source of antioxidants

Another health benefits of dark chocolate is rich in biologically-active organic compounds that function as antioxidants. These compounds include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins.

Cocoa and dark chocolate were shown in a study to have more polyphenols, flavanols and antioxidant activity than fruits such as blueberries and acai berries.

Flavanols potentially reduce insulin resistance which is a common risk factor for diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. However, sugar can have the opposite effect so if you’re going enjoy the full benefits of dark chocolate buy it with no added sugars.

May improve blood circulation

Cocoa and dark chocolate were observed to mildly improve blood flow and lower blood pressure in many controlled studies.

Dark chocolate flavanols were also observed to stimulate the lining of arteries and produce nitric oxide (NO). NO functions as a signal to arteries to relax, mildly improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. However, there was great variation between studies and as such more research is needed to conclusively determine if dark chocolate is able to improve your blood circulation.

May reduce risk of heart disease

LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease as it clogs your arteries, making your heart work harder to pump blood. In the long term this can lead to heart disease. Compounds in dark chocolate seem to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDLs. Several long term observational studies have been shown to have good improvement.

One 15 year study, 470 older men were found to have a reduced risk of death from heart disease by 50%. Another showed a 57% lowered risk of heart disease for participants eating dark chocolate more than five times a week.

Possibly improve brain function

Coupled with stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine which are naturally found in dark chocolate, a study found that high flavanol containing chocolates helps participants improve blood flow to their brain over the course of 5 days. It could even potentially improve cognitive function in older people with mild cognitive impairment.

May prevent sun damage

Your skin could also benefit from the bioactives found in dark chocolate.

Flavonols have been observed to improve circulation, increase skin density and hydration, and protect against skin damage. In one study, the minimal erythemal dose (MED) was more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate for 12 weeks. MED is the minimum amount of UVB rays needed to cause skin redness within 24 hours of exposure. This means that after consuming dark chocolate consistently, it requires higher exposure to UVB rays to experience redness.

While consuming more dark chocolate can help protect your skin, don’t forget your regular skin care routine and sunblock if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the sun!

Want to know more about antioxidant-rich ingredients that can benefit your skin? Check out the

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