As you’re preparing for Valentine’s Day and trying to find the perfect gift for your loved one (or yourself, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself) you’ll likely be trying to decide which chocolate to get. If you’re torn between milk chocolate or dark chocolate, you may want to consider one thing: dark chocolate is actually good for you.
That’s right! Studies have found that dark chocolate can be good for your eyes as well have some other benefits.
With that in mind, you could possibly be wondering “why should I limit chocolate to special occasions and holidays? Maybe I should have it every day!”
This article will address the health benefits of dark chocolate and why it could be okay to have a daily piece of sweet deliciousness.
Dark Chocolate & Your Heart
Recent studies have found a variety of heart related benefits from eating dark chocolate.
One showed that eating two to three 30-gram servings of dark chocolate a week can help reduce the risk of various cardiovascular related illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, while another study showed that people who ate dark chocolate up to 2 times a week had less plaque in their arteries.
With these combined factors, it’s clear that dark chocolate has a positive effect on your heart, which will lead to your whole body being healthier. (1)
Beyond a healthy heart, there are also signs that dark chocolate improves your eyes.
A recent study was conducted to compare the benefits of dark and milk chocolate. It was found that patients who ate 47 grams of dark chocolate had improved all types of visual perception: visual acuity, and large and small letter contrast sensitivity.
The reasons behind this is that cocoa has flavanols which have been proven to help your blood vessels by:
- healing damaged lining
- relaxing muscles
- and improving blood flow.
It is then inferred that the healthier blood flow helps get more oxygen to your brain and eyes, leading to them functioning better. (1) Natural Wellness’s Vision Protector also supports healthy blood circulation within and around the eye.
5 Other Ways Dark Chocolate Helps You
Beyond a healthier heart and better vision, dark chocolate has shown to have other benefits as well.
- Fights Free Radicals – Plant-based foods (don’t forget that chocolate comes from the cacao plant) are loaded with antioxidants that protect cells from free radicals that can cause disease and damage our bodies. Eating dark chocolate can help keep you healthy and avoid certain illnesses as well as aging. This could potentially lead to healthier looking skin and weight loss as well. (2)
- Mood Enhancer – Some studies have found that the combination of fatty acids and health-boosting flavonoids found in dark chocolate help improve your mood and make you happier. It is believed that chocolate stimulates a part of your brain that is associated with rewards and pleasure. (2)
- Fights Cancer – Some studies have found that those who regularly eat antioxidant-rich dark chocolate have had less incidents of cancer compared to those who don’t eat dark chocolate. It is believed that the flavonoids, epicatechin and quercetin, are responsible for this. (2)
- Possibly Extends Life – One Harvard study found that elderly men who ate dark chocolate at least once per week lived longer than men who did not eat dark chocolate. (2)
- Improves Memory – Research has found that dark chocolate can help the part of the brain associated with age-related memory loss. This may be due to a flavonoid known as epicatechin, which is found in dark chocolate. (2)
With all of the research that has been done, it appears that making dark chocolate a regular part of your diet can show long term benefits for your quality of life.
It helps fight heart disease and cancer, it helps you see better, it improves your brain, and it can straight up help you live longer!
To get the most benefit out of dark chocolate, you should try to find brands that are 50 to 90% cocoa. Chocolate that is between 10 and 50% cocoa is considered higher in fat and not as healthy for you. (1)
To reap the full benefits of dark chocolate, slowly nibble on one or two squares of dark chocolate a day. You should eat it slowly because dark chocolate is rather filling; there’s no need to overload on it. (1)
Recipe for Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries
If you’re looking for a romantic treat to make for you and your loved one – or simply yourself –a here’s a delicious recipe for you to enjoy! (1)
- 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips – Ghiradelli is about 60% cacao, providing loads of antioxidants.
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 1 dozen large fresh strawberries
Wash and thoroughly dry the berries. The chocolate will stick better to the berries the drier they are. Keep the caps on.
In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate pieces and solid coconut oil.
Heat the bowl in a microwave on high for 45 seconds. At this point, only the coconut oil will be melted. Stir the coconut and chocolate until they start to look combined. Then put the bowl back in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Take the bowl out and stir again. Repeat these steps a few more times until it is an even soft liquid. Be sure not to burn the chocolate!
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Grab a strawberry by the green cap and dip it into the melted chocolate. Then use a spoon to help coat the berry. Let the excess chocolate drip off.
Once the extra chocolate drips off, place the strawberry on the lined baking sheet. Repeat the previous steps for the rest of the berries.
Place the baking sheet in the fridge or another cool place to let the chocolate shell harden. This will take a few minutes.
The refrigerated chocolate covered strawberries will stay fresh like this for a day.
Enjoy them at your leisure!