Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Blocks of dark chocolate.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

pathmedical Nutrition

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can affect your health in a good way. Made from the seed of the cacao tree, it’s one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find.

Here are some health benefits of dark chocolate.

Source of Antioxidants – Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins. Cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than any other fruit, even blueberries and acai berries (1).

Raises HDL and Protects LDL from Oxidation – Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. Cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol (2). It makes sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage (3).

May Reduce Heart Disease Risk – The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease (4).

Protects Skin – The compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavanols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration (5). If you’re planning a beach vacation, consider enjoying some extra dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months. But check with your doctor or dermatologist before forgoing your normal skin care routine in favor of more dark chocolate.

Improve Brain Function – Dark chocolate may also improve the function of your brain. Eating high flavanol cocoa for 5 days improves blood flow to the brain (6). Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. It may improve verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease (7).

A lot of the chocolate on the market is not nutritious. Choose quality stuff like dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.

SOURCES
1. http://ccj.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513403
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684527
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20858571
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16702322
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892813