Dark Chocolate Health Benefits: The Healthy Side Of Your Favorite Dessert

Date
June
19
2022
Compiled By Otella Ritzy
Medically Reviewed By M Lieberman, [MD] FACT CHECKED

Chocolate was first consumed in South America between 200 and 800 A.D., in the form of a bitter chocolate drink that was produced from cacao beans.

Today’s sweet and smooth milk chocolate bears little similarity to the chocolate made by the Mayans long ago.

Dark chocolate, on the contrary, is a wonderful bitter remembrance of what chocolate might have been in the past.

Dark chocolate is very high in nutrients that are beneficial to your health. It is made from the seed of the cacao tree and is one of the best sources of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate has been known to reduce the risk of heart disease and promote health. Minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, and iron are abundant in dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids. These are antioxidants that might provide a lot of health advantages[1]. Cacao is a plant rich in antioxidants and minerals which is used to make chocolate.

Trace amounts of cacao, cocoa butter, milk, and sugar make up commercial milk chocolate. Dark chocolate, on the contrary, contains far less sugar and more cacao than milk chocolate.

We will look at some of the health benefits of dark chocolate in this article. We will also go over how much to eat and different nutritional information.

10 Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolates

Here are 10 benefits of dark chocolate:

  1. Nutritionally Dense

    Chocolate having a high cocoa content is high in nutrients, such as soluble potassium, fiber, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

    Dark chocolate also has a small amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which have been demonstrated in lowering the risk[2] of heart disease and lower cholesterol.

  2. Aids Weight Loss

    Dark chocolate suppresses salty, sweet, and fatty meal appetites. They have a very high satiety value, which might make you feel fuller for a longer duration.

    The studies[3] show that they are also high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are known to help you burn fat and speed up your metabolism.

    Hence, you could say that it is one of the decent snacks that could promote weight loss.

  3. Boost Blood Circulation

    The antioxidants of dark chocolate stimulate the lining of the arteries and force them to release a gas that sends a signal to the arteries.

    This causes the arteries to relax and allow blood to flow freely[4].

    When blood flows freely, it reaches every organ of your body, supplying oxygen and nutrition without causing any problems.

  4. Prevents The Onset Of Neurological Disease

    The flavanols of dark chocolate boost the flow of blood to the brain. They also improve the flow of blood to the retina.

    They help in decreasing neuroinflammation, which is linked to diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

    Therefore, dark chocolate consumption might lower your risk of neurological disease while also improving your vision.

  5. Blood Pressure Is Reduced

    The same antioxidants which help enhance blood flow also help in reducing resistance. This lowers[5] your blood pressure against the arteries in tiny quantities.

    Though it only relieves a small amount of strain, it has a huge impact on your heart over a long duration of time.

    As high blood pressure is often connected to heart disease, lowering it could be an excellent method to reduce risks.

  6. Mood Enhancer

    Dark chocolate contains stearic and palmitic acids. These are saturated fatty acids which might make you joyful and improve[6] your mood.

    They help in increasing neuronal activity in areas of the brain which are associated with reward and pleasure.

  7. Reduces The Risk Of Heart Disease

    If you consume dark chocolate a few times every week, you will have quite less cholesterol lodged in your arteries. You will also have a lower risk of heart disease.

    According to researchers[7], eating dark chocolate three or more times every week reduces the chance of developing calcified plaque in the arteries.

    As eating dark chocolate less often has no effect, regular consumption of dark chocolate could lower the risk of heart disease.

  8. Might Help To Prevent Cancer

    The flavonoids found in dark chocolate, quercetin, and epicatechin are thought to be responsible[8] for cancer-fighting qualities.

  9. Improves Healthy Cholesterol

    The chemicals which are found in dark chocolate could prevent bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

    It reduces[9] the chance of LDL becoming oxidized.

    On oxidization, LDL produces free radicals, making the particle potentially harmful to tissues.

  10. Anti Diabetic

    Dark chocolate helps with inflammatory markers, blood sugar regulation, and insulin sensitivity.

    Therefore, the blood sugar levels in your body are reduced[10], lowering your risk of diabetes.

Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?

Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate when consumed in moderate quantities. Dark chocolate might not come to mind when you are told about healthy meals.

However, this delectable indulgence of dark chocolate has long been promoted as having health benefits.

Dark chocolate, when not filled with saturated fat, and sugar, is a heart-healthy chocolate treat, according to researchers.

Antioxidants found in dark chocolate make it a powerful disease fighter. It has been found to help lessen the risk of heart disease and control blood pressure.

According to several studies, dark chocolate might aid with:

  • Making platelets in the blood less likely to form clots, which might lead to a stroke or heart attack.
  • The production of nitric oxide helps in improving blood flow throughout the body, including the brain.
  • Insulin resistance is reduced[11], which helps in lowering the risk of diabetes.
  • Chronic inflammation, which might lead to heart disease, is managed.
  • Improvement[12] of your cognitive functions.

Is Dark Chocolate Vegan?

Declaring dark chocolate as a vegan is not as simple as it seems. Dark chocolate could be vegan friendly, though it is worth double-checking.

Dark chocolate is typically assigned a percentage grade. It is assigned based on the quantity of cacao in it.

It is common to have between 60 and 80 percent of your body fat, but 100 percent is quite unusual.

However, the higher the cacao concentration, the more likely the dark chocolate is to be vegan, as the recipe has fewer ingredients.

In addition to cacao, cacao butter and sugar are common ingredients in dark vegan chocolate.

Despite the possibility of animal and dairy ingredients in dark chocolate, determining whether or not it is vegan is quite simple.

Dark chocolate which does not contain any milk or animal ingredients could be branded as a vegan. In reality, it is extremely evident these days.

You could double-check by reading the ingredient list.

With so much emphasis on plant-based products, manufacturers of vegan chocolate want you to know that their chocolate is vegan.

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

Dark chocolate has been known to have many health benefits for a long duration of time. The amount of cocoa indicated on the chocolate relates to the contribution of the cacao plant to every ingredient.

This means dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content might include more of the elements which provide health advantages.

The following are examples of helpful compounds:

  • Polyphenols.
  • Flavanols.
  • Theobromine.

It is worth noting that once cocoa is processed into chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder, some of its polyphenol components could be lost.

Cocoa processing removes some of the cacao bean’s most beneficial chemicals while also adding cocoa butter, milk, and sugar, a refined form of the bean.

Polyphenols[13] and flavonoids[14] are antioxidant-rich chemicals that are found in dark chocolate. Antioxidants help in preventing oxidative stress by neutralizing the free radicals.

Excessive concentrations of the free radicals might cause damage to cells in the body, which is known as oxidative stress.

The normal process of aging is aided by oxidative stress. The consequences of oxidative stress might lead to the development of several diseases over time, including:

  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heart disease.
  • Eye disease.
  • Cancer.

How Much Dark Chocolate Should You Eat A Day?

It is healthy to eat a 1.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate every day. Several researchers have begun to research the effects of dark chocolate on the brain.

Eating 46 grams of 75% cacao organic chocolate, a little more than 1.6 oz boosted neuroplasticity.

The brain can build new synaptic connections, which might improve mood, memory, and cognition, according to research presented at the 2016 Experimental Biology meeting.

Does Dark Chocolate Have Caffeine?

Dark chocolate has a higher[15] caffeine concentration than milk chocolate as it includes more cocoa solids.

The content of caffeine rises as cacao content rises, and it varies widely depending on the chocolate maker.

A 1.6 ounce of dark chocolate (70 percent cacao) has roughly 30 milligrams of caffeine. However, as the percentage of cacao increases, so does the caffeine amount.

A 1.3-ounce portion of 85 percent cacao dark chocolate, for example, could contain more than 30 milligrams of caffeine, with some more costly brands containing up to 60 mg.

Coffee, on the contrary, could have anywhere from 150 to 300 mg of caffeine per 6 ounces, depending on how strong it is brewed.

As caffeine is a stimulant, it is recommended that some groups, such as pregnant women, and people with high blood pressure, or heart disease, avoid or limit it.

Many healthy people have been told that consuming 300 mg or less caffeine per day is safer.

If you are very sensitive to caffeine, a small quantity of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate should be good for you.

If you have any concerns regarding caffeine, you should see your doctor before eating dark chocolate.

Conclusion

Dark chocolate is one of the rare foods which tastes great and has a lot of health advantages. Several researchers found that cocoa has a lot of health benefits, such as the prevention of heart disease.

However, this does not mean that you should consume a high quantity of chocolate every day. It is very high in calories and also simple to consume a lot. After dinner, you might have one or two squares of it.

Consider making hot cocoa without any sugar or cream if you want the benefits of cocoa without having the calories of chocolate.

Though in small quantities, dark chocolates usually contain some sugar. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of chocolate on the market is not healthy. Choose high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 60% or more.

+15 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Rabia Latif Health benefits of cocoa Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013 Nov;16(6):669-74. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328365a235. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24100674/
  2. David L. Katz, Kim Doughty, and Ather Ali Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15; 15(10): 2779–2811. doi: 10.1089/ars.2010.3697
  3. Hamed Kord-Varkaneh, Ehsan Ghaedi, Ali Nazary-Vanani et al. Does cocoa/dark chocolate supplementation have favorable effect on body weight, body mass index and waist circumference? A systematic review, meta-analysis and dose-response of randomized clinical trials Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(15):2349-2362. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1451820. Epub 2018 Apr 12. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29553824/
  4. Valeria Ludovici, Jens Barthelmes, Matthias P. Nägele, et al. Cocoa, Blood Pressure, and Vascular Function Front Nutr. 2017; 4: 36. Published online 2017 Aug 2. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00036
  5. Dirk Taubert, Renate Roesen, Edgar Schömig Effect of cocoa and tea intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis Arch Intern Med. 2007 Apr 9;167(7):626-34. doi: 10.1001/archinte.167.7.626. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17420419/
  6. Sarah E Jackson , Lee Smith , Joseph Firth et al. Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 US adults Depress Anxiety. 2019 Oct;36(10):987-995. doi: 10.1002/da.22950. Epub 2019 Jul 29. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31356717/
  7. Jose P Garcia, Adrian Santana, Diego Lugo Baruqui The Cardiovascular effects of chocolate Rev Cardiovasc Med. 2018 Dec 30;19(4):123-127. doi: 10.31083/j.rcm.2018.04.3187. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31064163/
  8. Is Chocolate Good for You? June 2, 2020 Available from: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/is-chocolate-good-for-you.html
  9. Seigo Baba, Midori Natsume, Akiko Yasuda et al. Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6):1436-41. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1436. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17513403/
  10. Davide Grassi, Stefano Necozione, Cristina Lippi, et al. Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives Hypertension. 2005 Aug;46(2):398-405. doi: 10.1161/01.HYP.0000174990.46027.70. Epub 2005 Jul 18. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16027246/
  11. Syed Raza Shah, Richard Alweis, Najla Issa Najim, et al. Use of dark chocolate for diabetic patients: a review of the literature and current evidence J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2017 Oct; 7(4): 218–221. Published online 2017 Sep 19. doi: 10.1080/20009666.2017.1361293
  12. Astrid Nehlig The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar; 75(3): 716–727. Published online 2013 Feb 5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x
  13. Kanti Bhooshan Pandey and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Nov-Dec; 2(5): 270–278. doi: 10.4161/oxim.2.5.9498
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  15. Dark Chocolate Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

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