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Day in the Life

Century Park Blog

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Date Posted

07/12/2019

Category

Food

Dark chocolate

The next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel so guilty about it. July 7, 2019 was World Chocolate Day. It is a holiday that allows us to celebrate and indulge in chocolate. But who says we should just celebrate one day a year? Despite chocolate’s bad reputation for causing weight gain and other health issues, there are several health benefits of eating this delicious treat. 

Most chocolate is divided up into three categories: white, milk or dark chocolate. Chocolate’s “darkness” is determined by its amount of cocoa solids (made from cocoa beans) mixed with cocoa butter and sugar. Chocolate comes from the seed of the cocoa tree, and it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. 

Milk chocolate is the most popular type of chocolate in America. It typically contains 10% cocoa liquor – a paste made from ground, roasted, shelled and fermented cocoa beans consisting of both nonfat cocoa solids and butter. Though you shouldn’t spoil yourself with large amounts of milk chocolate every day, small amounts can help with bone health, boost energy levels and can reduce risks of certain types of cancer. 

White chocolate is the chocolate you most need to be careful with. It only contains cocoa butter – no cocoa solids – combined with sugar and milk. White chocolate does not contain cocoa liquor. Even though white chocolate may be tasty, it is the least healthy for you to eat because it lacks raw cocoa beans according to the American Heart Association. 

Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is loaded with nutrients that can affect your health in a positive way. If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, it is quite healthy. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains 35% of cocoa liquor. Dark chocolate also has decent amounts of soluble fibers and minerals. The caffeine amount of dark chocolate is very low and unlikely to keep you from sleeping well. 

The American Heart Association lists several other health benefits of dark chocolate: 

  • It may advance blood flow and lower blood pressure. The flavanols (molecules) in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium – the lining of the arteries – to produce nitric oxide (a molecule your body creates to relax the blood vessels and widen them for better circulation). 
  • It can reduce risk of heart disease. The compound in dark chocolate appears to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL (“bad” cholesterol). 
  • It could improve brain function. Cocoa or dark chocolate may progress brain function by increasing blood flow. 

There is significant evidence to show that cocoa can provide health benefits. Of course, this research doesn’t advise us to consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still easy to overeat and has a lot of calories. Be aware that not all of chocolate on the market is healthy. There are a lot of added sugars and ingredients mixed in to some chocolate, so be sure to choose the quality stuff such as dark chocolate with 70% of natural cocoa in it. 

Chocolate is a healthy food that tastes good, so enjoy in moderation!  

 

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