Everybody loves chocolate. From a young age, we’ve all wished we were Charlie Bucket visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Heck, that’s all it took to get Grandpa Joe out of bed after almost 20 years!
How could we not love it? It’s scrumdiddlyumptious!
But did you know that dark chocolate could actually be your golden ticket to a clean bill of health? Yeah, that’s right! Not only is chocolate tasty, but it can actually be good for you!
Here are several ways that dark chocolate can be good for you.
Dark Chocolate Is Loaded with Nutrients
Dark chocolate with high levels of cocoa content is incredibly nutritious, as it is rich with soluble fibers and minerals.
For example, a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate that is 75-80% cocoa will have the following:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the RDI (recommended daily intake) for iron
- 58% of the RDI for magnesium
- 89% of the RDI for copper
- 98% of the RDI for manganese
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams of chocolate is a lot of chocolate, meaning it will still be loaded with calories, sugar, and fat. So don’t actually eat that full bar of chocolate in one sitting or you’ll get yourself sick and put on some extra pounds.
Just like anything else, chocolate is best for you in moderation. So only eat a little bit at a time. (1)
It’s Full of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate has a variety of antioxidants in them – including polyphenols, flavanols and catechins – which help fight off free radicals. In fact, one study found that dark chocolate was richer in antioxidants than any fruit – including blueberries and acai berries!
So the next time someone says that fruit is a healthier dessert than chocolate, be sure to mention that chocolate is actually healthier for you when it comes to antioxidants. (1)
Dark Chocolate Promotes Heart Health
Flavanols in dark chocolate have been shown to potentially stimulate artery lining and, in turn, produce nitric oxide (NO2). Nitric oxide helps your heart by telling your arteries to relax and reduce resistance to blood flow.
Essentially, think of your arteries like the chocolate chute that Augustus Galoop got stuck in. NO2 is what helps clear the arteries or get Augustus out of that chute and into the fudge room. Once that happens, the flow of blood (or chocolate) works much better.
Multiple studies have found that chocolate will both lower blood pressure and improve blood flow, but only at a relatively minimal level. So you should really take it with a grain of salt. (1)
This Tasty Treat May Fight Heart Disease
To go hand in hand with improved blood flow, dark chocolate may also be helpful when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Several observational studies have found that men who eat more dark chocolate over a period of time have had less instances of heart disease than those who did not eat chocolate. Some believe that this could be from reduced levels of cholesterol; others believe it reduces the amount of calcified plaque in the arteries.
But, to be clear, these are observational studies, so there could be other factors involved that are interfering with data. However, for the most part, it looks like chocolate does help when it comes to heart disease. (1)
Dark Chocolate Helps Your Skin
Dark chocolate’s high amount of flavonols could be very beneficial to your skin, as well as protecting you from the sun. This is because flavonols are known to shield from sun damage, as it increases skin density and hydration, and improves blood flow to the skin.
One study found that people who ate dark chocolate regularly over 12 weeks vastly improved in skin quality. So, perhaps, next time you go on vacation, if you don’t want to turn out like an oompa loompa or worse – Violet Beauregarde – consider having a decent amount of dark chocolate leading up to the trip. That way you can get a more healthy looking tan. (1)
Eating it Can Make You Smarter
One study found that people who ate dark chocolate with high levels of cocoa over 5 days improved blood flow to the brain. This, in turn, helps improve brain function.
It has shown to help the elderly when they are showing signs of mental impairment. Some believe this may be due to the small amounts of caffeine in chocolate which can help stimulate the mind and body. (1)
Keep Your Vision in Check with Dark Chocolate
Just like how chocolate can improve blood flow to your brain, it can also help improve blood flow to your eyes, making them stronger and able to see more clearly. A recent study found that those who ate dark chocolate were better at seeing contrast in colors and light sensitivity than those who only ate milk chocolate. (2)
While most of the children at Willy Wonka’s factory didn’t meet the best fates (besides Charlie, of course), that doesn’t mean they weren’t onto something when they were enjoying chocolate. Dark chocolate can help you in many ways; so next time you are considering what to have for dessert, consider a nice piece of dark chocolate.
Coconut Oil Chocolate Bar Recipe
- 2/3 cup of Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup of Cacao Powder
- 1/3 cup of Maple Syrup or raw honey
- Pinch of salt
- Unsweetened shredded coconut and/or nuts, optional
- Special Equipment: Silicon molds
In a small saucepan warm the coconut oil and maple syrup or honey for 1-2 minutes until melted.
Add the cacao powder, salt and optional coconut or nuts to the saucepan and stir until combined.
Pour the mixture into silicone molds and refrigerate until hardened. You can speed up the process by freezing the chocolates until they harden.
Once solid pop them out of the molds and ENJOY!