July 10 – mark that date in your calendar! It’s World Chocolate Day, which calls for a celebration. You should mark October 28, too! That’s National Chocolate Day. We can’t complain about having two days devoted to chocolate, can we?
Do you have any ideas about how to celebrate Chocolate days? Here’s a thought: focus on healthy treats instead of sugar-fueled recipes. Dark chocolate has more health benefits than most people assume.
And if you don’t like dark chocolate because of its sweet bitterness, you probably didn’t discover the right way to enjoy it. Here’s how you do it: take a piece in your mouth and don’t chew it. Just allow it to melt on your tongue, and you’ll feel the full flavor of cocoa butter overcoming the bitter notes.
You can use dark chocolate in easy healthy recipes. They are simple, too! You just mix cocoa butter, cocoa, honey, hazelnuts, and vanilla extract. You mold and cool. And there’s your home-made healthy chocolate, ready to be enjoyed.
You might be wondering: what makes the dark bar better than all other types of chocolate? Why should you replace the sugary, milky dessert with the full-on cacao flavor?
10 Great Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. It Has Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants protect your body’s cells from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. That’s because they balance out the damaging effects of free radicals.
Cocoa beans contain flavanols. These are antioxidants, which reduce the damage free radicals cause to the body’s cells.
Although scientific studies are not particularly clear whether eating chocolate reduces the risk of getting certain cancers, they show that flavanols support the heart’s work.
Since these antioxidants are found in cocoa beans, it means you should eat chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa in its ingredient list. Dark chocolate that is.
2. Dark Chocolate Can Boost Your Focus
Imagine a student who’s too tired from studying and writing. They come to this point: “I’ll just hire a pro to write my essay, and I’ll go to sleep.” Before getting to that bold decision, the student may try a healthy meal that would boost their energy. Dark chocolate can be the dessert.
One study found that flavanol-rich chocolate improved the brain’s cognitive functions in healthy young people. That sounds promising, doesn’t it?
3. It Protects Your Skin from Dehydration
The antioxidants in dark chocolate will help you stay protected under the sun. They increase hydration and skin density by improving the blood flow to the skin.
Pick up a few bars when packing for your next vacation. But please; don’t assume you’ll need less water. You still need plenty of it!
4. It Supports the Functions of Your Heart
This is another health benefit linked to antioxidants. Flavanols effectively prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol). One study showed that they also reduced the calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries.
With that, they reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Dark Chocolate Lowers Blood Pressure
We’ll keep talking about flavanols since that’s the most surprising health gain of dark chocolate. Do you know what else they do? They stimulate the lining of your arteries to produce NO (nitric oxide), which relaxes the arteries. With that, it improves the blood flow within your entire system.
6. Cocoa Is Rich in Good Nutrients
High-quality dark chocolate gives you plenty of fiber, so it’s great for your diet. It also boosts you up with high levels of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc, and potassium. It’s a natural health booster, so why would you avoid it?
Of course, a bar of chocolate also contains a lot of calories, so it’s important not to go overboard with the consumption. You’ll get the most significant potential out of any healthy food when you consume it in moderation.
7. It Boosts Your Energy Levels
Cocoa is relatively rich in theobromine and caffeine, which are known to stimulate your energy level. We’re saying “relatively” rich since the levels are not as high when you compare them to coffee. Still, dark chocolate will make you feel a bit more awake if you consume it at breakfast.
8. Chocolate Is Important for Pregnant Women
Well, that’s some good news!
Fetal growth is a complex process that requires an endless list of vitamins and minerals. Eating about 30 grams of dark chocolate every day will contribute to a proper pregnancy diet. We already talked about the iron, zinc, magnesium, and all other useful nutrients in cocoa. When you add the antioxidant effect into the picture, it’s clear why future mommies should indulge in some chocolate without feeling guilty.
9. Dark Chocolate May Help in Diabetes Prevention
But it still has sugar in it? How could it prevent diabetes?
Yes; it sounds crazy. But when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity in your body. With that, it may prevent the onset of diabetes, at least temporarily.
10. Chocolate Makes You Happy
Let’s switch the talk from antioxidants to another important chemical: PEA (phenylethylamine). What does it do? It triggers your brain to release endorphins – the chemicals it produces when you feel happy or in love. It’s no wonder why you suddenly feel sooooo good after tasting a piece of a high-quality chocolate bar.
Plus, let’s talk about cooking with chocolate. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. You may prepare your favorite oatmeal recipe in the morning and add a bit of dark chocolate for that extra boost. It will completely change the game, and you’ll feel happy about that meal.
Chocolate makes you even happier when you share it. So bring your favorite bar to work or school!
When you realize that dark chocolate is so good for your health, you might feel encouraged to eat a lot of it. But no; chocolate glazed pork ribs are not healthy. They just taste good.
We should always know the difference between “It tastes nice” and “It’s good for me.” Although cocoa-rich chocolate is both these things, it stops being good when you use its health benefits as an excuse to eat more of it.
No; a piece of dark chocolate in the evening won’t fix the damage you made by smoking eating junk food all day. The antioxidants may help a bit, but you need to make many other changes in your diet. That’s how you’ll feel the health benefits of everything you eat.
For now, let’s enjoy chocolate without all the health talk behind that. We’re allowed to do that but in moderation. Hopefully, the list of health benefits above inspired you to choose dark over milk chocolate every time. It’s way better!
Elizabeth Skinner remembers orthorexia as the most difficult stage of her life. She’s always been mindful about nutrients, but when her pursuit for healthy eating became an obsession, it was no longer healthy. After overcoming orthorexia, Elizabeth started writing blog posts that encourage people to eat healthy without obsessing over nutrients.