When it comes to eating chocolate, dark is going to be the best option based on its many health benefits. Although many aren’t fond of its bitter taste, dark chocolate has been identified as having various upsides for personal health. When compared to white and milk chocolate, dark chocolate emerged the healthiest option, although it was noted that all chocolate is obviously high in fat. According to a WebMD article on dark chocolate, findings from a report done by Mauro Serafini, PhD, for an issue of Nature, said “milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate…and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.” Therefore, milk chocolate would not be a healthy option. Now let’s focus on dark chocolate specifically, and discuss just what it can do for you.
One of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate is that its rich in antioxidants. As stated in a Fitday.com article, “antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells.” The article also notes that these free radicals play a part in aging and have even been attributed as a cause of cancer. Therefore, eating dark chocolate can help to prevent various types of cancer and also ease the process of aging. Daniel DeNoon, author of the WebMD article on dark chocolate’s benefits, also mentions free radicals, saying “antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments.” This study went on to state that benefits showed only when consumption was moderate. An article by Kris Gunnars, BSc, for Authority Nutrition, talks about a measure called ORAC, (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) testing the antioxidant activity of foods. The article summed up this testing process by saying “researchers pit a bunch of free radicals against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.” Unprocessed cocoa beans were among the highest scoring foods tested according to Gunnars article. Later this article stated “one study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which include blueberries and Acai berries.” Polyphenols and flavanols are organic compounds that function as antioxidants according to the Authority Nutrition article. This article lists seven benefits of eating dark chocolate with moderation, so what are the others?
Not only can dark chocolate help cancer and aging prevention, but it can also help lower blood pressure. The flavanols mentioned earlier “stimulate endothelium, the lining of the arteries to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas” (Gunners). This gas then sends signals to the bodies’ arteries telling them to relax, thus lowering blood pressure. However, according to Gunners, despite “several controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure”, there is also a study showing these had no effect. The Fitday.com article gave instruction on how to use dark chocolate to reduce blood pressure, saying “studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure.” In this same article it is also shown that dark chocolate is beneficial for the brain, because it also allows for better blood flow to the brain. The article says that it can “improve cognitive function” and that it can “also reduce your risk of stroke.” Additionally, “in a control trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men” (Authority Nutrition). This oxidized LDL (or bad cholesterol) can react with free radicals, enabling itself to cause damage to tissue, “such as the lining of the arteries in your heart” (Authority Nutrition). Lowering total LDL thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The Authority Nutrition article further proves this impact by saying “it contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.”
Lastly, this article shows how the consumption of dark chocolate can provide skin protection against the sun’s harmful rays. The flavanols in dark chocolate mentioned earlier “can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration” (Authority Nutrition). In order for the sun’s rays to cause redness in skin, the minimal amount of UVB rays is recorded as (MED) minimal erythmal dose. The article cites a study ran, testing the effectiveness of skin protection from dark chocolate, which showed that “in one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.”
So as you can see, there is reasonable information showing that consuming dark chocolate has various health benefits. In each of the articles, it was stressed that to receive these benefits, one must consume the dark chocolate in moderation. Although this research may seem conclusive that dark chocolate is beneficial there are studies that dispute some of the benefits. Personally, I eat dark chocolate every day or two when I have some, although I was unaware of all of these benefits.
Here is a YouTube video explaining some of the health benefits listed in my blog, as well as a few others:
Denoon, Daniel J. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, LLC., 27 Aug. 2003. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
Gunnars, Kris. “7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (No. 5 Is Best).” Authority Nutrition. Authority Nutrition, 05 June 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
“Six Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate / Nutrition / Healthy Eating.” Fit Day. Internet Brands, Inc., n.d. Web. 22 Nov. 2015.