12 Incredible Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

healing benefits of dark chocolate

Lordy did I love researching this article!

As an ex-addict of sugar and bearer of a sweet tooth, dark chocolate has remained one of my favourite comfort foods and go-to nibbles.  I even treat myself to a little on Self-Care Sundays when I’m practicing a bit of self-nurturing.
(But shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone).

So it’s been great to discover that it’s not only a delight for the taste buds but an awesome healing food as well!

But even more than that, the benefits of dark chocolate are extensive and surprising!
And this is thanks to the fact that it’s crammed with antioxidants, minerals, proteins, healthy fats and healing compounds.

In fact one of the reasons why real dark chocolate has that distinctively strong and bitter taste, is because it contains nearly 400 hundred powerful antioxidant molecules (called polyphenols).

So the more raw, unprocessed and bitter the chocolate, the more polyphenols it contains and the better it is for you.  Simple.

Sadly though, I do have to stress that it is only DARK chocolate that we’re talking about here!  Because milk chocolate and its variants (basically any chocolate with cocoa solids under 72%), just don’t cut it health wise.

Milk chocolate is way too high in sugar, milk solids, unhealthy fats (like palm oil) and additives like emulsifiers.  In fact, even the milk in milk chocolate is bad because it reduces the absorption of the few antioxidants that are left in it.

Yep, milk chocolate is definitely for sniffing only!

Oh and in case you were wondering, white chocolate doesn’t contain ANY chocolate at all – it’s just pure fat, sugar and chemicals – so should be avoided by all health-conscious people.

And so on that note, let’s take a look at all the wonderful benefits of dark chocolate and its surprisingly healing properties…

12 Incredible Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

1  Contains Resveratrol and Epicatechin

Dark chocolate contains resveratrol which is a potent antioxidant.  And it’s very special because it can cross over into the brain and help reduce inflammation in the central nervous system.

Similarly epicatechin is a powerhouse antioxidant too.  With research linking it to a reduction in the development of the biggest killer diseases including heart failure, stroke, diabetes and cancer [1].

Just these 2 antioxidants alone, make the health benefits of dark chocolate pretty impressive indeed!

2  Has Anti-Cancer properties

A 2010 study found that certain proteins in cacao can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in lymphoma.

Similarly polyphenols present in chocolate show important free-radical scavenging action and are able to reduce cellular mutation and damage to DNA [2][2a].

Whipping yourself up a tahini hot chocolate with turmeric is going to give you some serious anti-cancer antioxidants in combination!

Has Anti-Diabetic properties

A number of studies have shown that chocolate significantly lowered insulin resistance in patients [3][4].  This is due to the fact that it contains important antioxidant molecules called flavanols, which are part of the polyphenol family.

Protects Eyesight

Dark chocolate contains both magnesium and various polyphenols which can improve vascular health and blood flow to the eye, important in the management of eye conditions such as glaucoma.

A study in 2004 also found that compounds in cacao helped to inhibit cataract formation caused by diabetes [5][5a].

Improves Gut Bacteria

A randomised, controlled, double-blind study in 2011 showed that ingestion of cocoa flavanols boosted populations of healthy gut bacteria.  And even helped decrease unhealthy bacterial species, such as clostridia.

This suggests cocoa has great prebiotic benefits in the diet [6].

benefits of dark chocolate

Is Cardio-Protective

Various studies demonstrate that the benefits of dark chocolate extend to the heart as well.

This is because chocolate’s compounds can lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function. And polyphenols present in cocoa powder can reduce the effects of inflammation in cardiovascular disease.

There is also suggestion that chocolate reduces the risk of blood clot formation in coronary arteries [7][7a][8][9].

Is Brain Protective

Once again resveratrol has great anti-inflammatory action within the brain and neural network.  There’s a very good reason why dark chocolate happens to be one of the best foods for concentration you can eat!

And the flavanols in cocoa show potential for reducing brain degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.  They do this by inhibiting the deposition of peptides which build up and cause Alzheimer’s to develop [10].

Provides Dental Protection

The antioxidant compounds in cocoa can lower oxidative stress and inflammation, and this gives oral protection too.

A study in 2009 showed that a cocoa-rich diet reduced the effects of inflammation on gingival tissue in rats with periodontitis [11].

Reduces Stress Hormones

Chocolate has been shown to reduce anxiety by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body, this is because the flavanols affect the way these hormones are metabolised.

Cocoa also contains something called valeric acid and the mineral magnesium which both have a stress-reducing action.

10  Improves Skin Health

An interesting study in 2006 found that women who ingested cocoa powder with a high flavanol content (including epicatechin), saw improved blood circulation of the skin, as well as increases in thickness and hydration.

It also offered photo-protective action and reduced UV-induced skin inflammation [12].
Who’d have thought that dark chocolate could be a natural skin healing remedy?

11  May reduce risk of Pre-Eclampsia

A 2008 study found that pregnant women consuming higher servings of chocolate reported fewer incidences of pre-eclampsia.

And also demonstrated higher concentrations of theobromine (a chocolate compound) in the umbilical cord, which suggests there may be a link between the two [13].

12  Aids Liver Function

Finally in patients with liver cirrhosis, those that ingested dark chocolate showed significant improvements in hepatic blood flow and vascular function.  This was compared to those that consumed only white chocolate (which contained no antioxidants at all) [14].

Everything In Moderation!

So now folks, you can’t use all this wonderful science as an excuse to start cramming in large quantities of dark chocolate, as that ain’t how it works!

The old adage ‘everything in moderation‘ is absolutely bang-on here.

Recent research has found that you only need about 7g of dark chocolate a day, which is no more than a couple of squares.  That’s enough to provide you with all the benefits of dark chocolate, without any of the unhealthy consequences of indulging.

Any more than that and the excesses of sugar and fat, far outweigh the positives!

And Remember, When It comes To Chocolate – Purer Is Better

In terms of the health benefits of dark chocolate, the rawer it is and therefore the less-processed, the better it will be for you!

Look for raw cacao nibs or organic chocolate with as high a cocoa content as you can bare the taste of.  And ideally this will be 72% or higher.

That means that the more bitter the chocolate the more healing it is for your body!
And that’s perfect because you don’t want to be eating large amounts of it anyway.

So enjoy your wonderful dark chocolate niblets my choco-loving friends! x

2 Comments »

  1. superhealinglife November 3, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Thankyou Jude! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Jude Starken November 2, 2017 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

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