Dark chocolate is very nutritious. It contains a fair amount of soluble fiber and is full of minerals. The fatty acids in cocoa are excellent, mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats. It also contains stimulants like caffeine, but such a small amount that it will not keep you awake at night.
Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants. Raw, unprocessed cocoa beans have among the highest antioxidant activity in foods. Cocoa contains more antioxidants than fruits such as blueberries and Acai berries.
Dark chocolate improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the lining of the arteries to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes the arteries – thus lowering resistance to blood flow resulting in lower blood pressure.
Dark chocolate raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation. Cocoa powder significantly decreased oxidized LDL and increased HDL in a trial of men with elevated cholesterol. It also reduces insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.
Dark chocolate lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. Being highly protective against LDL oxidation, there should be much less cholesterol to build up in the arteries, lowering the risk of long term heart disease. Studies show a drastic improvement in elderly men, reducing the risk of death by heart disease by 50% over 15 years. Eating chocolate two or more times per week also lowers plaque calcification in the arteries by more than 30%.
Dark chocolate protects your skin from the sun. The flavonols protect against sun damage by improving blood flow to the skin and increasing skin density and hydration.
Dark chocolate improves brain function. Consuming high-flavanol cocoa for five days showed improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa also improves cognitive function in the elderly with mental impairment.
Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits. Remember that it is still full of sugar and calories, so eat it in moderation – a square or two after dinner. Be sure to choose quality chocolate with 70% cocoa content or higher. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.
Gunnars, Kris. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (No. 5 is Best).” AuthorityNutrition, Jun 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2015.