Dark chocolate at one time was put in the corner shelves, since it was only considered a delicacy for an elite few. However, increasing studies show the health giving benefits of dark chocolate. The fact that most of the health benefits of dark chocolate have been supported by various studies done not only by major chocolate manufacturers, but also independently indicate that there is some truth that dark chocolate is indeed good for health. There are various health benefits from eating dark chocolate.
The key ingredient that makes all the difference in dark chocolate is the high level of cocoa that remains in it after processing. The problem is that most manufacturers remove most of the cocoa during the manufacturing process and replace it with milk solids, sugar, and other additives. The heating process too negates the positive effects of cocoa to a great extent. Dark chocolate can taste bittersweet, but the positive effects of this cocoa laden delicacy could be sweet music to your ears.
One of its miracle properties is the ability to reduce blood pressure. Studies by German doctors among various others have shown that dark chocolate contains cocoa polyphenols, which is responsible for reducing blood pressure without changing one’s body weight. Even though the reduction may not be too drastic, eating dark chocolate is one tasty way of reducing blood pressure. Dark chocolate has also shown to improve the function of the heart by relaxing arteries and also improving their response. The antioxidants present in dark chocolates also prevent free radicals from harming the heart by causing heart diseases. There are various levels of cocoa present in dark chocolate and if possible, you should choose the one with the maximum cocoa content, since it has higher benefits as compared to chocolate with lower levels of cocoa. The downside is that cocoa in its unsweetened form is quite bitter, and hence you will need to balance out between taste and benefits.
Dark chocolate can also reduce the levels of bad cholesterol [LDL]. It can also help in reducing weight, since cocoa is known to reduce appetite and its intake can result in an increase in energy. Dark chocolate also contains fiber, which helps the digestion system to digest food in an efficient manner. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which in addition helps to reduce blood pressure, also helps to reduce diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis. The cocoa in dark chocolate can also act as mood enhancers by increasing the brain’s dopamine activity.
There is however, one fact that should not be ignored before you start munching down dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains high calories that can pile on extra flab on to your body. Hence, as in everything else in life, moderation is the key word.
Although, dark chocolate does have many health benefits and should definitely be a part of your lifestyle, it is important to remember that a healthy balance is required by eating other healthy foods, in order to maintain a healthy nutrient intake. Thus, dark chocolate is indeed a bittersweet miracle that if taken wisely can truly benefit your body and mind.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed.