12 Proven Benefits of Dark Chocolate (No. 8 is Best)

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Last Updated: 11th October 2016

Everything in life is made better by adding chocolate!

We all love strawberries, but dip them in a chocolate covering and all of a sudden you have a gift that combines elegance and romance in one.

Take a simple biscuit and add chocolate, and you have the single most popular treat in the UK and Australia. Heck, mix some chocolate with chili pepper, cumin, and a handful of other spices, and you have the classic Mexican mole poblano.

Yes, chocolate truly is, as Mayans believed, a "food of the gods"!

However, unlike most of the other sweet treats around, chocolate can actually be good for you. While cakes, cookies, candies, and pastries will all contribute to a bigger waistline and metabolic disorders, chocolate will IMPROVE your health.

Granted, not just any chocolate will do. You can't just stroll down the supermarket aisle and fill your cart with all the chocolate you see in the hope that it will benefit you. No, when it comes to "health food", the only thing that qualifies is proper dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate is made with very little sugar and milk, with mostly natural cocoa. The closer it is to its original unprocessed state the better!

Note: Chocolate above 75% or 80% cocoa is the healthy stuff.

Need proof that your daily ration of chocolate is a "health decision"? Here are some of the scientifically proven benefits of dark chocolate:

1. It's Delicious

I just had to get that one out of the way first. This is probably the MAIN reason most of us eat chocolate. There's nothing quite like the rich, flavorful goodness of chocolate in literally any form! Whether you eat it in sweet dishes, savory dishes, or even on its own, it's absolutely marvelous.

And look at how gorgeous it is:

Doesn't it make you want to do like a cartoon character and go for a swim in that melted goodness?

Chocolate is one of the most popular flavors ON THE PLANET and for good reason. Chocolate ice cream, brownies, chocolate milkshakes, chocolate bars…need I go on?

2. It's Diet-Friendly

Say what? The last thing you'd expect from a "candy" like chocolate is to hear that it will help you lose weight, right?

Well, let's be clear: chocolate candy bars are NOT healthy. They're packed with sugar, high in calories, and offers next to nothing in the way of nutritional value.

Dark chocolate, on the other hand, can actually help make weight loss a little bit easier.

(Some women even say feeding their husbands dark chocolate before sleeps helps them stop snoring and is better than chin straps to stop snoring)

How is that possible?

It suppresses your appetite. More specifically, it can satisfy your food cravings and sweet tooth. A study found that dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate, and it can help to reduce your cravings for fatty, sweet, and salty foods. It doesn't matter if you're craving potato chips, tacos, or Jellybeans--a bit of chocolate will help to shut down your cravings. Best of all, a small piece of dark chocolate can help to keep you full between meals.

It can help you eat less. According to neuroscientist Will Clower, a small portion of chocolate before your meal can cause your body to produce leptin, the hormone that sends signals to your brain that your body is satiated. Have a small piece of chocolate 20 minutes before your meal, and you'll eat less during mealtime, and you'll fill up more quickly.

If you're struggling to stay on track with your diet, add some dark chocolate to your "allowed food list." It can make weight loss that little bit easier!

3. It Improves Circulation

Healthy circulation is the key to a healthy body. Your blood delivers nutrients and oxygens to all of your muscles and organs. Poor blood flow = reduced internal function. Good blood flow = healthy organs and internal systems.

Multiple studies have proven that chocolate is great for your circulation:

  • One study found that the antioxidants in chocolate helped to improve platelet and endothelial function in your body.
  • Another study discovered that dark chocolate can prevent arterial stiffness, ensuring an improved flow of blood.

These are just a couple of the many, MANY studies that prove dark chocolate is great for you!

4. It Can Reduce Diabetes

high sugar levels. When you consume too much sugar, your body produces insulin to try to get the serum Dark chocolate can help to improve your sensitivity to insulin, making it easier for your body to control blood sugar levels. By preventing insulin resistance, you can effectively reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Remember that diabetes is caused by excessively glucose (sugar in your bloodstream) under control. Long-term high insulin production can cause your body to become desensitized to the hormone, making it more difficult to keep glucose at manageable levels. Obesity also increases insulin resistance, increasing your risk of diabetes.

Hence, the wonder of chocolate! Thanks to the dark, chocolatey goodness, you can make the insulin more effective at controlling blood sugar levels.

5. It's Good for Your Skin

One of the great things about cocoa beans is that they are PACKED with antioxidants--polyphenols, flavonoids, and others. There are many benefits of these antioxidants (see #7 on the list), but one of the primary benefits is their ability to protect your skin.

In one study, researchers found that high-flavonol chocolate offered the skin significant more protection from light than regular chocolate. The result is skin better-protected from the UV radiation in sunlight.

Regular chocolate is highly processed, and this processing eliminates a lot of the antioxidants from the chocolate. Dark chocolate, however, does not go through the same amount of processing as regular chocolate, so it has a much higher antioxidant content. Thanks to these antioxidants, you can protect your skin from UV radiation, reduce your risk of melanoma, and improve its appearance!

6. It's Rich in Nutrients

Do you have any idea what's in chocolate? Aside from amazing flavor, you get a surprising amount of nourishment with every bite. A single 100-gram bar for dark chocolate (70 to 85% cocoa) provides:

11 grams of dietary fiber. This will do wonders One of the great things about cocoa beans is that they are PACKED with antioxidants--polyphenols, flavonoids, and others. There are many benefits of these antioxidants (see #7 on the list), but one of the primary benefits is their ability to protect your skin.

In one study, researchers found that high-flavonol chocolate offered the skin significant more protection from light than regular chocolate. The result is skin better-protected from the UV radiation in sunlight.

  • body Regular chocolate is highly processed, and this processing eliminates a lot of the antioxidants from the chocolate. Dark chocolate, however, does not go through the same amount of processing as regular chocolate, so it has a much higher antioxidant content. Thanks to these antioxidants, you can protect your skin from UV radiation, reduce your risk to improve your digestion, reduce sugar and toxin absorption, and aid in waste elimination.
  • 67% of the iron you need every day. Thanks to this high iron content, your will have the minerals it needs to produce new red blood cells to carrying nutrients and oxygen to your organs, bones, brain, and tissues.
  • 58% of the magnesium you need every day. Magnesium helps to increase energy production, reduces anxiety, aids in digestion, reduces your risk of osteoporosis, relieves muscles spasms and aches, and helps to regulate the levels of other important minerals.
  • 98% of the manganese you need every day. Manganese plays a role in the production of hormones, aids in weight loss, helps to control your appetite, and makes it possible for your body to absorb B vitamins and Vitamin E.
  • 89% of the copper you need every day. Copper regulates the rhythm of your heart, prevents premature aging, increases your body's energy production, reduces symptoms of arthritis, and speeds up the healing of wounds.

As you can see, a bit of chocolate goes a long way toward keeping you healthy!

7. It's Packed with Antioxidants

Dark chocolate has a higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score than just about any other food on the planet! Not even blueberries and Acai berries, two of the most antioxidant-rich foods around, had more antioxidant activity than raw, unprocessed cocoa beans. Pretty awesome, right?

Dark chocolate has been minimally processed, which means most of its antioxidants are still intact. The antioxidants in dark chocolate will help to combat free radicals. The result is a lower risk of oxidative stress and free radical damage--both of which contribute to aging, cancer, and disease.

8. It Makes You Smarter

Want to be a genius? Chocolate may not turn you into an Einstein overnight, but it can certainly give your brain a boost!

How does it do that?

  • It improves circulation -- Your brain, like all the other parts of your body, requires oxygen and nutrients to survive and thrive. Dark chocolate helps to increase circulation and produce more red blood cells, which will help your body to send more oxygen and nutrients to your brain. The result: better brain function!
  • It can enhance cognitive function -- One study found that dark chocolate helped to improve cognitive function among the elderly, even those with cognitive impairment. The flavonols in cocoa helped their brains to function more efficiently.
  • It gives your brain a boost -- Chocolate contains small quantities caffeine and theobromine, two substances that help to reduce fatigue and enhance brain function. In one study, researchers discovered that dark chocolate in small doses gave the brain a boost far more effectively than white chocolate.

Chocolate isn't just good for your taste buds--it's WONDERFUL for your brain as well!

9. It's Heart-Smart

As we've seen above, chocolate can help to improve circulation, reduce arterial stiffness, and increase the production of red blood cells. This means that your bloodstream is better able to transport the oxygen absorbed by your lungs.

But what about your heart? Well, according to Harvard University, a small square of dark chocolate per day can help to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). This means that it eases the stress placed on your heart, making it easier for your heart to pump blood without strain.

10.It Fights Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be one of your worst enemies! It clogs up your arteries, reduces blood flow, and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Not with chocolate on hand…

Chocolate affects your cholesterol in two ways:

  1. It lowers your LDL cholesterol. Low-density lipoproteins are the fat cells that cling to your arterial walls, harden, and restrict blood flow. Reducing LDL cholesterol is one of the best ways to reduce cardiovascular risk.
  2. It raises HDL cholesterol. High-density lipoproteins are actually good, as they help to eliminate the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. Even a small increase in HDL cholesterol (2-3%) can have marked effects on your total and LDL cholesterol levels (8-10%).

If your doctor is worried about your cholesterol levels, it's definitely time to add a bit of dark chocolate to your diet.

11.It's Great for Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a pretty stressful time, what with all the changes to your body, your routine, and your life. But never fear, chocolate is here!

A Finnish study examined the effects of dark chocolate on over 300 women and found that a bit of chocolate goes a long way. Women who ate chocolate during their pregnancy reported lower levels of stress and anxiety. The babies born to those women were not only more active, but they smiled and laughed more than the babies born to women who did not eat chocolate. The babies also exhibited less fear of the new situation.

Eat more chocolate, for your baby's sake! (As if you needed another reason to send your husband out on a chocolate run…)

12.It Makes You Feel Better

Have you ever wondered why you turn to chocolate on those rough days? What is it about chocolate that always makes you feel better?

There are actually a few things:

  • Caffeine/theobromine -- These two nutrients not only improve cognitive function, but they can boost your mood and make you feel better.
  • Serotonin -- Chocolate stimulates the production of serotonin, the "feel-good" chemical that improves your emotional state and helps to deal with the moody blues.
  • Endorphins -- The caffeine and theobromine in coffee stimulates the production of endorphins, helping to enhance your mood.
  • Phenylethylamine -- PEA is a chemical created by your brain when you "feel in love". Thanks to the PEA in chocolate, you get that same happy feeling with every bite.

Not all chocolates in the market are good for you. Be mindful in choosing what to buy and as much as possible, stick with dark chocolate which contains more nutrients than ordinary ones. It is proven to have good effects on the body, and it doesn't hurt to treat your sweet tooth once in a while.

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