Quantcast

14 Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

Popular
iStock

By Jacky Miller

Dark chocolate is not a guilty pleasure; it actually comes with many health benefits. Real dark chocolate—not processed and sweetened milk chocolate—is chock-full of incredible health benefits.

Some nutrients are destroyed in the process of making chocolate available for the general market. Make sure the chocolate you buy is within the healthy range. Check the label: Chocolate with a 60 percent or higher cocoa content is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Often called bittersweet, it has minimal sugar. The best way to get all the nutrients from chocolate is simply to use unsweetened cocoa nibs. The bitter, crunchy, seed-like snack isn't the best-tasting treat, but its nutritional profile makes it worthwhile.

1. Dark Chocolate Can Help Prevent Depression

One of the components found in dark chocolate is theobromine. Theobromine is structurally quite similar to caffeine, its sister chemical. Theobromine, when consumed in larger amounts, can cause a dip in blood pressure, excitability and give energy. This energy can be followed by a crash, leading some critics to tout chocolate as a dangerous addictive substance.

Another chemical found in chocolate is anandamide. Anandamide is structurally similar to THC, but nowhere near as effective. Despite this, anandamide can still provide a mood- and energy-boost, without the addiction and cardiovascular damage that comes with other stimulating substances.

Yet another mood-boosting chemical in chocolate is phenethylamine, which is metabolized in your body into serotonin. Serotonin is one of the most important mood-regulating chemicals your body can produce. If you're deficient in serotonin, supplementing with phenethylamine—even through chocolate—can help bring you back to baseline.

2. Dark Chocolate Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Small-scale studies have indicated for quite some time that regular intake of cocoa can have a positive effect in fighting cardiovascular disease. A more recent study on cocoa's cardiovascular benefits, done in 2006, proved this among a larger study group of 470 men, all tested while consuming different daily doses of cocoa. The conclusions were that cocoa does indeed lower the chances and significance of cardiovascular disease.

Such observational studies don't prove that chocolate is responsible for these benefits. However, the consistent and repeated positive results in studies done on cocoa indicate that chocolate does have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Chocolate has had such a profound effect on so many systems in the human body some authorities are unsure whether to call it a food or a drug.

3. Dark Chocolate Can Aid Against Diabetes

Chocolate has been shown to bolster endothelial function and insulin resistance. The endothelium is extremely important in maintaining arterial health and insulin resistance is the most commonly checked statistic to determine whether future diseases, like diabetes, will develop. Cocoa and its flavonoids help to positively modulate these systems.

Obviously, if you're hoping to prevent diabetes, you're going to want to eat low-sugar, dark chocolate.

4. Dark Chocolate Can Help Prevent Stroke

A study recently done on Norfolk residents finds that chocolate has a huge impact on the likelihood of having a stroke.

The study compared people who frequently consumed chocolate with those who entirely abstained. It was done on a huge scale, involving 20,951 adults. They measured chocolate intake at the start of the study and tracked the people for decades, following their cardiovascular statistics.

The problem with studies done like this is that the results don't conclusively link chocolate and lower incidence of stroke. Perhaps heavy chocolate consumers share similar habits that also reduce stroke. This study also found links between those who ate more chocolate and just having healthier habits in general than the other study group.

5. Dark Chocolate Can Improve LDL Cholesterol and Raise HDL Cholesterol

Artherogenesis, caused by low-quality lipids being oxidized, is a degenerative condition of the arteries. Chocolate has been shown to prevent the oxidization of LDL cholesterol, which is one of the greatest contributors to artherogenesis.

So, when LDL cholesterol is oxidized, the LDL itself becomes reactive. This means it can damage your organs and your arteries and eventually cause cancer. It's also effective at increasing the total amount of HDL cholesterol, the good kind.

The solution to reactive LDL? Antioxidants! Chocolate has no dearth of antioxidants. Plenty of these antioxidants are absorbed easily by the blood and can battle free radicals before they do any damage.

Next Page

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A dead sea lion on the beach at Border Field State Park, near the international border wall between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. Sherry Smith / iStock / Getty Images

While Trump's border wall has yet to be completed, the threat it poses to pollinators is already felt, according to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.

Read More Show Less
People crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on July 20, 2017 in New York City sought to shield themselves from the sun as the temperature reached 93 degrees. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

by Jordan Davidson

Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Salmon fry before being released just outside San Francisco Bay. Jim Wilson / The New York Times / Redux

By Alisa Opar

For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.

Read More Show Less
AnnaPustynnikova / iStock / Getty Images

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Protesters hold a banner and a placard while blocking off the road during a protest against Air pollution in London. Ryan Ashcroft / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images

By Bridget Shirvell

On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.

Read More Show Less
Coal ash has contaminated the Vermilion River in Illinois. Eco-Justice Collaborative / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.

That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.

Read More Show Less

picture-alliance / AP Photo / NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

The Group of 20 major economies agreed a deal to reduce marine pollution at a meeting of their environment ministers on Sunday in Karuizawa, Japan.

Read More Show Less