Chocolate is one of the most indulgent, versatile treats in all of dessert land. Every type of dessert, including cakes and candies, comes in chocolate, including dark, milk or white. But desserts are supposed to be bad for you, right? Dark chocolate breaks this rule – providing many health benefits that you may not be aware of.
Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, which are essential to your health. The main type of antioxidants that are usually found are called flavonoids. These types of antioxidants are usually found in plants, which is what dark chocolate is derived from. Because it keeps more of the nutrients from the original cocoa bean intact and comes in higher cocoa percentages, there are more antioxidants in this type of chocolate rather than others, like milk and white. Milk chocolate has other ingredients that weaken the power of the amount of cocoa in it, making it less healthy, so when choosing a chocolate for antioxidant purposes, choose #teamdarkchocolate.
Eating dark chocolate can contribute to keeping your heart healthy and functioning well. Remember flavonoids, those super specific antioxidants mentioned earlier? They can help protect you from heart disease. The flavonoid count is higher than any other type of chocolate, making it more reliable in heart disease prevention. This may come as a surprise to you, a type of chocolate being able to prevent heart disease, but antioxidants are proven to help with heart health.
Lowers Blood Pressure
What else can dark chocolate help you with? Well, if you have high blood pressure, it may help you lower it. The main ingredient in dark chocolate, cocoa, is proven to lower blood pressure due to increasing nitric oxide. People with high blood pressure, rejoice and start eating dark chocolate! Of course, proceed in moderation to help keep blood pressure at a healthy and safe level.
Dark Chocolate Reduces Cholesterol
Dark chocolate also reduces cholesterol. It’s all because of those flavonoids. If you specifically want to indulge in dark chocolate to reduce your cholesterol, then buy dark chocolate products with “a high cocoa content that have the least amount of processing, which lowers the flavonoid content.” And, if you want to be sure that you purchase chocolate with the least amount of processing, then organic is the way to go.
Ingredients to Look For
Cocoa is one of the main ingredients that you should be looking for when purchasing chocolate because it is high in those powerful flavonoids, so look for the percentage of cocoa in a single bar vs. per piece of chocolate. When in the store, you may notice that some dark chocolate bars advertise a certain percentage of either cocoa or cacao. Cacao “is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans” and “is known to have a higher antioxidant content than cocoa.” The cocoa/cacao percentage ranges start at 60 percent. What does this percentage mean, and what does it mean for your health? The percentage represents the amount of cocoa/cacao in the actual bar. A higher percentage of dark chocolate is, therefore, actually better for you. If you were to pick up a 60 percent cocoa/cacao bar and a 72 percent, the latter will provide more health benefits to you. Remember, the higher the percentage, the higher the impact on your health.
Rejoice chocolate lovers there’s a delicious food that provides many health benefits. If you have any of the health problems listed above or just want to do everything you can to prevent them, then adding some dark chocolate (in moderation) into your daily meals may help. See, not all health trends sound so terrible!
Kim Palagyi, Sponsored by Independence Blue Cross