In the past, chocolate in any form has been touted as fattening and unhealthy, but in recent years, scientists and researchers have learned that dark chocolate actually contains a number of antioxidants that can not only lower your risk for heart disease, but also contribute to weight loss.
Dark chocolate in its purest form is full of monounsaturated fats, which can actually help curb cravings for other high-fat desserts and junk foods and increase your body’s metabolism. Most health experts recommend eating dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 70% cacao, whereas some say that a minimum of 65% cacao is acceptable. The bottom line is that the higher the percentage of cacao, the more health benefits you’ll reap from eating dark chocolate.
Tips for buying and eating dark chocolate
When purchasing dark chocolate bars, make sure you read the ingredient labels to verify that the first ingredients listed are not milk or sugar, which are signs that indicate the cacao content may be too low to have nutritional benefits.
When eating dark chocolate, be sure to limit your portion sizes, and eat just one or two squares at a time, which is actually all you’ll really need to satisfy your chocolate craving and benefit from its antioxidants.
Health benefits to eating dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, and preventing the formation of blood clots.
- Dark chocolate can improve brain health, and contains a series of natural compounds that boost your mood and relieve stress, according to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
- Flavonoids in dark chocolate reduce insulin resistance and can help battle type 2 diabetes. Its low glycemic index will not cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar levels like other chocolates. This fact has been backed by studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- The antioxidants in dark chocolate will help protect your body from cancer and slow down the aging process.
- Dark chocolate contains a compound known as theobromine, which has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel and promote good oral health.
- Dark chocolate inhibits food cravings, and is more filling than milk and semi-sweet chocolates, according to a study published in Science Daily.
Before adding any dark chocolate to your diet, consult with your nutritionist or physician to verify that dark chocolate is ideal for your health based on your current health status.