Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate You Didn’t Know About
You probably already know dark chocolate can improve your health by lowering your blood pressure and preventing blood clots, but it turns out there are even more health benefits of dark chocolate you didn’t know about. Here are seven things you might not have heard about before but will be glad to hear once you do.
Protects your brain
No other food does more for your brain than dark chocolate. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, chocolate lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and helps clear artery-clogging LDL (bad) cholesterol from the body. It also slows brain shrinkage, which makes it the only food proven to stave off memory loss as you age. Want some more? It’s an antidepressant, full of mood-boosting tryptophan and serotonin, is proven to reduce PMS symptoms, prevents cancer because it’s high in antioxidants and protects against heart disease by relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation. But be careful — too much may make you gain weight!
Promotes heart health
- Eating dark chocolate can increase the amount of antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can cause damage to the body’s cells and even lead to cancer. With all the antioxidants it contains, dark chocolate may also help protect against heart disease by blocking LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and causing plaque buildup in the arteries.
- Chocolate lovers know that there is something about that creamy texture that just melts in your mouth, but did you know that eating this delicious treat could help reduce tooth decay? The phenolic acid compounds found in dark chocolate are thought to reduce plaque formation and prevent the bacteria associated with tooth decay from creating acids that attack teeth enamel.
Studies have shown that antioxidants called flavonoids in cocoa, such as epicatechin and catechin, improve memory function. They provide cognitive benefits such as improving the rate at which information is processed in the brain. The cocoa compounds also increase nerve cell generation in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for learning and forming memories. In one study, chocolate improved verbal memory performance. It was found that those who drank cocoa rich in flavonoids (eating four or more chocolate bars per week) had better short-term verbal memory recall than those who didn’t consume any cocoa flavonoids.
Increases HDL cholesterol
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids and these compounds found in dark chocolate, help maintain a healthy body weight. In one study, the people who consumed the most cocoa (76 grams) had higher HDL cholesterol levels than those who ate less (about four grams). This is good news as high blood cholesterol levels increase your risk for stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cocoa also helps lower triglycerides which can make it easier for your body to metabolize sugars and get rid of bad cholesterol.
Supports weight loss
Yes, chocolate is good for you! High-quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also helps fight cavities because it contains natural anti-bacterial properties. Perhaps most importantly, research shows that dark chocolate decreases appetite, which is an excellent way to fight overeating and maintain a healthy weight. Even though we would never advise eating a bunch of candy bars in one sitting (they’re definitely not health food), there are plenty of ways to enjoy high-quality dark chocolate while still consuming less calories than other foods.
Lowers blood pressure
Dark chocolate also has the ability to lower blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, while increasing the time it takes for blood to flow through them. The combination helps relax your nervous system and reduces your body’s response to stress. It can even help you live longer!
One study showed that participants who ate a square of dark chocolate an hour before taking part in an anxiety-inducing task reduced their stress levels as much as those that consumed white chocolate. The release of endorphins and a serotonin boost help to lower the heart rate, easing pressure on blood vessels and boosting mood. A good dose of antioxidants also helps ward off inflammation, which is one cause for high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.