13 Healthy Benefits of Dark Chocolate

| Food

What if your doctor recommended you take one to two squares of dark chocolate every day? You would jump right on that, right? Being able to eat sweets to help keep yourself healthy and even lose weight seems like a fairy tale or as if children are making up the rules that now govern our world. Keep an eye out for giant candy and flying pigs. In the mean time, find out all the ways that dark chocolate can benefit your health!

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>> Read More: Chocolate Treats: 200 Calories and Under Snacks

 

Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious When you buy dark chocolate make sure it has a high cocoa content. Authority Nutrition says that a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70 to 85 percent cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 67 percent of the recommended daily allowance for Iron
  • 58 percent of the RDA for Magnesium
  • 89 percent of the RDA for Copper
  • 98 percent of the RDA for Manganese

It also contains lots of potassium, zinc, phosphorous and selenium. Remember — as tasty it may be, don't eat it all at once.

Improves Blood Flow How does dark chocolate actively work to help your body? Well, dark chocolate contains flavanols which stimulate endothelium, a layer of cells that line your arteries, to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide sends a signal to your arteries so they'll relax. Once they relax it lowers your resistance to blood flow and so reduces your blood pressure. It also prevents blood clots and the hardening of your arteries.  (via Authority Nutrition)

Prevents Diabetes WebMD found an Italian study that focused on 15 people who ate about three ounces of dark chocolate a day for 15 days. Their insulin resistance — a risk factor for diabetes — was lowered significantly.

Reduces Stress Switzerland, the home of delicious chocolate, is also home to a study on the connection between dark chocolate and stress. Scientists found that after eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress levels were greatly reduced. They also saw that the effects of stress were partially eased as well. Now you know why chocolate always helped after a bad breakup or finishing an important project for work. (via Women's Health)

Helps Fight Fatigue Dark chocolate enhances the actions of the transmitters in your brain, like serotonin, to help regulate your mood and sleep. A study in England focused on people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They were given one and a half ounces of dark chocolate that had 85 percent cocoa in it, every day for eight weeks. The majority of the participants reported feeling less tired after eating the chocolate. There was surprisingly no weight gain in the study! Next time you hit a lull at work, grab some dark chocolate. (via WebMD)

>> Read More: 7 Fatigue Fighting Foods

Lowers Risk of Heart Disease The compounds in dark chocolate are highly protective against the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). Women's Health Magazine found a Swedish study of women who ate about one to two servings of dark chocolate each week. This study was done with over 31,000 women who found that they cut their risk for heart failure by a third! They also found a study done in Germany where participants ate about a square of dark chocolate a day and reduced their risk for heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. This can be attributed to flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that increases the flexibility of your veins and arteries.

>> Read More: Eating for a Healthy Heart: Top 10 Heart Healthy Foods

Loads of Antioxidants Studies showed that dark chocolate and cocoa combined have more antioxidants than blueberries and Acai berries. It's important for your body to have antioxidants because they help to fight off free radicals, which cause oxidation damage to your cells. Free radicals have been connected with the aging process and cancer. So, when you get a craving for chocolate, don't feel bad! You're protecting yourself from cancer and slowing down the aging process. (via Authority Nutrition)

Improves Brain Function Dark chocolate helps blood flow more freely to your brain, which leads to a boost in brain power! It can also improve cognitive function in elderly people, improve verbal fluency and  improve your performance and alertness. (via Authority Nutrition)

Protects Your Skin If you decide to go on a tropical vacation, be sure to bring lots of dark chocolate with you! They can protect your skin against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to your skin and increase skin density and hydration. Authority Nutrition found that when people ate dark chocolate with high levels of flavanols, it took them twice as long to develop the redness that indicates you have a sunburn.

>> Read more: The Skinny on Sunscreen: Myths vs. Facts

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Helps Your Teeth Other flavonol, dark chocolate contains theobromine. This has been proven to harden your tooth enamel. Unlike other candies that cause cavities, dark chocolate actually helps to prevent you from cavities. (via Fit Day)

Cough Relief Theobromine also helps with coughs. It works almost as good as codeine does. This chemical suppresses activity in a part of your brain called the vagus nerve. The plus side to substituting dark chocolate for codeine is that is has none of the negative side effects like being sleepy and dull, plus it tastes delicious! (via Women's Health)

Weight Loss With dark chocolate you don't have to wait until your cheat day to have a sweet dessert. Researchers found that dark chocolate is more filling and satisfies you more than milk chocolate. It actually lessens your cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. In truth, it is the craving to end all cravings! (via Women's Health)

>> Read More: 5 Tips for Faster Weight Loss

Happier Moms and Kids This may be surprising to find out, but it was reported that women who ate dark chocolate during their pregnancy were more capable of handling stress than pregnant women who didn't eat dark chocolate. Then there's a Finnish study that found that the women who ate dark chocolate had happier babies who also smiled more. (via Women's Health)

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