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While chocolate is BAE no matter what science says, medical research suggests that dark chocolate eaters can reap health benefits — besides the pure joy of indulging in the good stuff.
Scientific studies have shown that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients, making this bittersweet treat a superfood favorite.
On World Chocolate Day, here are 8 more reasons why you should totally indulge in dark chocolate cravings (in moderation) without having to go on a guilt-trip.
1. Dark Chocolate May Help Prevent Heart Disease and Lower the Risk of Stroke
A meta-analysis of eight studies on the link between chocolate consumption and cardiovascular disease, published in July 2015 in the journal Heart, found that people who ate more chocolate per day had a lower risk of both heart disease and stroke.
2. Dark Chocolate May Improve Cognition, Prevent Memory Loss, and Boost Your Mood
Research presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting found that eating 48 grams (g) of organic chocolate with 70 percent cacao increased neuroplasticity in the brain, which could have positive effects on memory, cognition, and mood.
3. Dark Chocolate Could Improve Blood Sugar Levels, and Reduce the Risk of Developing Diabetes
Studies have shown healthy amounts of dark chocolate rich in cacao could actually improve how the body metabolizes glucose. Insulin resistance causes high blood glucose (sugar) and is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, per an article published in March 2019 by StatPearls.
4. Chocolate Is Good for Your Gut and May Help With Weight Loss
Neuroscientist Will Clower, PhD, wrote a whole book on the subject called Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, which describes how eating a bit of dark chocolate before or after meals triggers hormones that signal to the brain you’re full. Of course, eating more than the recommended amount per day can counteract any potential weight loss. Further, studies cited in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology furthermore noted that during digestion, chocolate behaves like a prebiotic (not to be confused with probiotic), a type of fiber that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
5. Rich Source Of Antioxidant
Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant, reports Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome – “Our findings indicate that 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.”
6. Is Good for Your Skin
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health lists vitamins and minerals dark chocolate is packed full of — like copper, iron, and magnesium, to name a few — that are also beneficial to your skin. Manganese, for example, supports the production of collagen, a protein that helps keep skin looking young and healthy.
7. Dark Chocolate May Bring Down Levels of Bad Cholesterol
Dark chocolate is also touted as a cholesterol-lowering food. A handful of almonds, dark chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa showed a significant drop in low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, which in high amounts can clog arteries, in a study published in November 2017 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
8. Dark Chocolate Is Nutritious — and Delicious
On top of all the other potential benefits, one thing is for sure: Dark chocolate contains a ton of nutrients. Of course, the darker the chocolate the better, but any 70 percent dark chocolate or higher contains antioxidants, fiber, potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium, according to a study published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.
Now that you’ve been made aware of the benefits of consuming dark chocolate, however it must be noted, it is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat. So please ensure to eat in moderation. Maybe have a square or two after dinner. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories in chocolate, consider making a hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.
Also be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is not healthy. Choose quality stuff — dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.
Disclaimer: If you are on medication for any known disease or are pregnant, please consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist on the amount of dark chocolate you can consume to suit your diet plan.
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