The Surprising Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate, According To Experts

- If you have a sweet tooth, you’re likely no stranger to chocolate cravings. 

Whether you like to eat a square from a chocolate bar as a treat or frequently indulge in a rich chocolate cake, the flavor can be practically impossible to resist. 

However, many of us have been led to believe that eating chocolate is terrible for our overall health and should be avoided as much as possible, especially if we’re trying to lose weight. 

But as it turns out, there’s one type of chocolate that health experts say can actually be quite good for you in moderation: dark chocolate.

That’s right; dark chocolate lovers rejoice! Especially when compared to white and milk varieties, the high cocoa content of their more bitter, richer counterpart actually offers a significant amount of health benefits. 

To learn more about how dark chocolate can fit into a healthy diet, we spoke to experts Lisa Richards, Nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet, Trista Best, Dietitian for Balance One Supplements, and Dr. Daniel Boyer, MD from Farr Institute. Find all of their insight below!

Better cardiovascular health, lower risk of disease

One of the biggest health benefits of dark chocolate is the fact that it's packed with antioxidants known as flavonoids, which offer a whole range of positive effects. 

"Among the flavonoids found in dark chocolate, epicatechin and catechin are thought to be particularly beneficial," Dr. Boyer notes. He tells us that they "help boost your mood and lower your blood pressure." 

Thanks to these powerful ingredients, eating dark chocolate can "help prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol," possibly even improving blood floor and reducing your risk of clotting.

Antioxidants also protect our cells from damage; Richards says they "work to prevent and treat the cellular damage caused by free radicals in the body as a result of toxins and stress," lowering our risk of health complications such as heart disease and even certain types of cancer. 

Who knew something that tastes so delicious could be so good for you?!

Better cognitive function

In addition to powerful antioxidants, the cocoa in dark chocolate also contains high amounts of magnesium, which is great for both your body and your brain. 

As Best notes, this nutrient "is vital to life as it is contained in every cell of the body and important for carrying out many bodily functions." 

Increasing your magnesium intake can help boost your mood and brain health and even "acts as a vasodilator to dilate the vessels which increases blood flow to the brain."

While magnesium is present in all chocolate, dark chocolate in particular packs in a lot of the stuff thanks to its high cocoa content. 

"Dark chocolate, in particular, is highest in cocoa with the most being 90% cocoa, opposed to milk chocolate which is typically only 10% cacao," Best points out.

Lower cravings, high satiety

How often do you eat a sweet treat and find yourself craving more sugar shortly after? This is a common issue with many candies and desserts, which leads to blood sugar spikes and overeating. 

Luckily, dark chocolate presents no such problems, making it a great weight loss snack. 

"Dark chocolate is high in fiber, which can help you feel full more quickly and prevent blood sugar spikes. 

It is also low in calories while providing significant amounts of magnesium, which is vital to healthy muscles, bones, and teeth," Dr. Boyer tells us.

Of course, too much of a good thing is a bad thing—which is why moderation is always essential. "The key is balance," he reminds us. 

"The healthiest way to enjoy dark chocolate is in small amounts—for example, as a treat once or twice a week." 

So, while you shouldn't necessarily chow down on a whole bar of chocolate every day, you can have some peace of mind knowing a small square for dessert won't kill you—in fact, it may help you!

Author: Faith Geiger


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