The love for dark chocolate has been wide-spread all around the world, without any clear explanation.
However, in case you want more motivation to consume dark chocolate, you simply need to dig deeper into science.
There have been a lot of academic studies which shed light on dark chocolate nutrition and its health benefits.
Historically speaking, dark chocolate appeared in Central American areas thousands of years ago.
Dark chocolate was so popular in the ancient Mayan civilization that its chemicals were discovered in Mayan cermic vessels.
When Europeans made their first footsteps in the Mayan civiliziation, chocolate was consumed by everyone.
Even in the 16th century when there was a shortage of science-based evidence, chocolate beverage had been well-known as a sacred drink to remove fatigue immediately.
During this period, chocolate started to be used to deal with medical ailments, such as problems related to liver or stomach.
As time passes by, more and more health benefits of dark chocolate have come into light.
Now, there is no denying that it is one of the healthiest foods if you consume it right.
Normally, dark chocolate that is appropriate for use is high-quality and contains 70 to 99 percent of cocoa (1).
Examining dark chocolate with 70 to 85 percent cocoa, we can see that 100 gram of dark chocolate can supply nearly 600 calories – an extremely high number.
You need to bear this in mind whenever you want to consume too much dark chocolate at one time.
Besides, fatty acids in dark chocolate are great when most of them are saturated and monounsaturated.
In contrast, the amount of polyunsaturated fats is quite small.
About 11 grams of fiber is present in 100 grams of dark chocolate.
Although some stimulants, such as caffeine or theobromine, are present in dark chocolate, chocolate does not seem to be as powerful as coffee to make you awake.
Dark chocolate nutrition facts will provide you with some background information. This makes it easier to understand chocolate health benefits.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Here are top 10 health benefits of dark chocolate that have been discovered and proved throughout human history.
You should be well aware of them in order to know how to use this ingredient in the best way.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
One of the first health benefits of dark chocolate that need mentioning immediately is its positive effects on the blood circulation and blood pressure.
Some flavanols found in dark chocolate result in a stimulated production of Nitric Oxide in the artery lining (2).
This kind of gas will stimulate the relaxation of the arteries and thus, the blood pressure will be lower significantly.
Nevertheless, the influence seems not to be powerful.
Bottom Line: With many bioactive compounds, dark chocolate can foster the flow of blood and scale down the blood pressure.
2. Stress Reduction
To relieve stress is one of the health benefits of dark chocolate that had been popular before the advent of science.
Furthermore, the stimulants, like caffeine or theobromine, in dark chocolate can give you a significant improvement in the mood.
According to a research carried out by the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, those consuming 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate on a daily basis will have a much lower level of stress hormones.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate should be given to those who experience chronic stress and anxiety thanks to its role as a natural antidepressant.
3. Stroke Prevention
The third one among top health benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to prevent stroke and more serious problems, such as heart attacks.
Another study with over 37,000 male participants was carried out by Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute during 10 years.
The result showed that the consumption of 2.2 ounces of dark chocolate on a weekly basis could result in a 17-percent reduction in the risk of stroke.
Bottom Line: If you want to avoid stroke, you had better consume one bar of dark chocolate per week.
4. Skin Protection
One of the most surprising health benefits of dark chocolate is to protect your skin, especially when it is exposed to the harmful sun rays.
Flavonols in dark chocolate makes more blood flow to your skin, preventing skin dehydration (9).
Thus, in case you are going to experience more exposure to the sun, you had better take dark chocolate into consideration to prevent the harmful effects of the sun.
Bottom Line: With flavonols, dark chocolate can foster the blood circulation under the skin and give it a great protection.
5. Weight Loss
One of health benefits of dark chocolate that attracts most attention is to aid you in weight loss process.
The richness of fiber in dark chocolate will expand your feeling of fullness, which reduces the amount of food consumption (10).
This is important for those who want to lose weight more efficiently (11).
A research from University of Copenhagen showed that when dark chocolate is consumed moderately, you will be less likely to consume fatty and sweet foods.
Moreover, the antioxidants in dark chocolate will enhance the metabolism, which helps to burn calories and fat more quickly.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate can increase the time you feel full, which gives you a support in weight loss.
6. Enhance Brain Function
In the past, chocolate used to be negative for the brain due to its stimulants.
However, in recent years, scientists have proved the opposite true.
Health benefits of dark chocolate on the brain function are getting more and more attention.
Some experiments on human pointed out that dark chocolate, with its richness of flavanols, could increase the amount of blood to your brain (12).
Besides, cocoa is super beneficial for old people who suffer from mental impairment.
Dark chocolate will help foster their cognitive function and stay away from aging-related mental problems (13).
Last but not least, stimulants present in dark chocolate undoubtedly give your brain an immediate boost.
Bottom Line: Thanks to dark chocolate, the overal function of your brain can be strengthened effectively.
7. Stop Coughing
The presence of theobromine is responsible for many dark chocolate health benefits, one of which is to cope with chronic coughing (14).
This substance can relax the nerve which causes coughing (15).
The British National Health Service did an experiment on 300 patients with chronic coughing.
These patients used theobromine twice per day. After 2 weeks, 60 percent of them got rid of coughing effectively.
8. Regulate Cholesterol
The consumption of dark chocolate is beneficial for lessening the risk of heart diseases by regulating the amounts of cholesterol.
Some trials concentrated on the use of cocoa powder in men. Their results revealed that it could reduce the number of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
LDL cholesterold may amplify the effects of free radicals, which are harmful to our tissues and muscles.
For men with high cholesterol, cocoa was able to raise HLD and reduce LDL (16).
Bottom Line: By minimizing the risk of LDL and oxidative damage as well as maximizing HLD, dark chocolate is a promising agent for preventing heart disease.
In dark chocolate, flavonoids exist in the form of catechins and epicatechins.
Catechins play an important role in boosting our immune system, which can be seen from the example of green tea.
Therefore, one of the best health benefits of dark chocolate is to strengthen your immunity (19).
10. Diarrhea Treatment
The last one in the list of top health benefits of dark chocolate is to help handle diarrhea more efficiently.
Containing some flavonoids, cocoa can impede the protein which has control over fluid secretion in your intestines (20).
Therefore, those experiencing diarrhea can use dark chocolate whose content is full of cocoa.
Bottom Line: The flavonoids in dark chocolate play an essential part in handling diarrhea.
Even though benefits of dark chocolate have existed for years, it does not mean that this ingredient is completely safe for human health.
If consumed excessively, dark chocolate can still result in problems, some of which might be very bad.
Dark chocolate contains carbs, most of which are sugars. As a result, you might face some dental problems, such as cavities, when using chocolate too often.
You should be cautious, especially when many types of dark chocolate in the current market is loaded with sugar.
Another common side effect of dark chocolate is to cause gastroesophageal reflux. It happens when the contents of your stomach go back upward.
Consequently, you are likely to suffer from burning sensations in the chest.
Besides, dark chocolate can enhance the brain function in general.
However, too much caffeine might trigger some problems, such as anxiety, nausea, rapid heartbeat or sleep difficulty.
This section is designed to provide you with some infographics to grab a quick understanding of dark chocolate nutrition and health benefits.
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Disclaim: The effectiveness from using these foods on certain problems and diseases will be depended on the body condition of the applicant.