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Dark chocolate, creamy, sweet, delicious and healthy for you. It is made from the seed of a cocoa tree and is found to be one of the best sources of antioxidants. We are not talking about the chocolate candy bar that is full of sugar or pastries, but the quality dark chocolate that contains 70-85% cocoa. Despite its great taste, there are at least five chocolate health benefits that you may have missed. There are many health benefits of chocolate as long as you buy the purest form of minimal processing.
Chocolate has to go through a long complex process before it gets the taste we know. It can have a variety of tastes and some different looks depending on the processing and added ingredients.
- Unsweetened: a bitter or baking chocolate best if used in cooking with added sugar.
- Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened but with an intense chocolate taste – better if used in recipes.
- Dark chocolate: best at 70-85% pure cocoa.
- Bittersweet: only 35% cocoa, dark color and somewhat bitter.
- Semisweet and milk chocolate are both high in sugar, lots of sweeteners and less cocoa.
The uses of chocolate are many, but the one with the most benefits is the dark chocolate. A 100-gram bar can contain antioxidants and fiber, so a small amount is quite satisfying.
Chocolate Health Benefits You May Not Know
You probably already that know dark chocolate is an excellent source of organic compounds such as antioxidants, flavanols, and polyphenols. These are shown to fight free radicals in the body. It has one of the highest levels of nutrition in all the chocolates. But do you know the dark chocolate health benefits?
- Dark chocolate can help improve your vision. Chocolate improves blood flow to the brain and retina which can help improve vision.
- Another benefit less known is the ability to quiet hard-to-stop coughs. Theobromine reduces the vagus nerve in the brain that triggers hard–to-stop a cough. And it does not have the narcotic, codeine. So there are no side effects of being sleepy and groggy.
- Dark chocolate may protect your skin from the sun. Flavonols can improve blood flow to the skin, therefore, increases skin density and protects it from sun damage.
- A study showed that eating chocolate 2 or more times a week lowered the risk of calcification plaque in arteries. There was an enormous reduction in heart disease and it can reduce blood pressure. Drinking cocoa rich in flavanols boosts the blood flow to the brain and can improve your alertness for up to 3 hours.
- Chocolate can be very nutritious as it contains soluble fiber and minerals. It has 11 grams of fiber as well as magnesium, manganese and copper, iron and zinc.
Of course, these benefits don’t mean you can just go out and splurge on chocolate. The fiber content will make you feel full, so you only need a small piece to get satisfied, and you won’t overindulge. Dark chocolate can also lessen the cravings for sweet, fatty foods.
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Other Proven Chocolate Health Benefits
The feel-good feeling you get from chocolate happens from the release of neurotransmitters and phyllo-chemicals in the body which elevate your mood. And you might find you feel a little energized from eating your chocolate bar. That is from the small amounts of caffeine in chocolate. And you can’t discount the great taste of a splendid pure chocolate candy.
Sometimes emotional eating might not be the wrong thing. You know what kind of havoc stress puts on your body. Studies show that when an anxious people take an ounce and a half of dark chocolate on a regular basis for continuous two weeks, their stress hormone levels were reduced.
Next time you’re under pressure at work, not to feel embarrassed about grabbing a dark chocolate bar from a vending machine or snack truck. Not only will it help you change the effects of stress, but it’ll give your brain a bump of power when you need it.
For those of us who love a little bit of chocolate now and then, are excited to find chocolate health benefits we might have missed. Along with the excellent taste, we can now not feel as guilty when we indulge in a square or two. Now we know we can eat a square a day, reduce blood pressure, lessen the risk of heart attacks and enjoy some time in the sun. Of course, some things must be done in moderation so don’t overdo it. Turn your brain and body a boost of chocolate and you might just live a little longer and healthier.
Next time when you choose your chocolate must keep in mind the dark chocolate health benefits.