11 Interesting Benefits of Chocolate

New Blogs// Nov 25, 2021 12:19:59 PM

Chocolate, in general, is seen by many as “unhealthy” or “bad” but what if we told you this assumption is wrong? As with anything, too much of a good thing can carry consequences. While this is true for chocolate, eating chocolate in moderation can have some surprising benefits including the following:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Balance cholesterol
  • Increase cognitive function
  • Balance blood sugar and prevents diabetes
  • Improve gut health and help with weight loss
  • May prevent certain forms of cancer
  • Improve skin health
  • Help fetal growth and development
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Nutritious and antioxidant-rich

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You may be looking at this list thinking, “there is no way there are that many benefits of chocolate”. We’re here to tell you the good news: there are! Don’t just take our word for it, medical research institutes and authorities such as the Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins, Medical News Today, Everyday Health, and Healthline all agree that, in moderation, chocolate is a healthy addition to most diets. Let’s break it down to get a better look.

 

Are Certain Kinds of Chocolate Better Than Others?

One of the first things to consider if you want to work chocolate into a regular, healthy diet is what kind of chocolate should you be eating? Are certain types of chocolate better than others? The short answer is yes; healthcare authorities believe that there are more benefits of eating dark chocolate than benefits of milk chocolate. Why? The percentage of cocoa powder.

This is not to say that there are no benefits to milk chocolate. In fact, the debate is ongoing as research develops. Some experts even advocate that the milk added to the chocolate increases the intake of calcium and protein. On the other hand, there is less cocoa powder used which generally means fewer antioxidants per serving. In general, experts believe that the most benefits of chocolate come from anything with over 70% cocoa. 

Over the years, the benefits of chocolate have been analyzed and studied by many reputable authorities. To name a few, studies have been published by The BMJ, American Academy of Neurology, The Heart Journal, PubMed Central, AHA/ASA Journals, Journal of Nutritional Science, Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, The Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the FASEB journal.

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Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Studies show that consuming one serving of chocolate can reduce the risk of stroke up to 22%. In addition, daily consumption of 100 grams of chocolate can lower the risk of heart disease by 33-57% in adults and by 50% in older men. As if that wasn’t enough, PubMed Central found that eating chocolate more than twice per week reduces calcified plaque build-up in arteries by 32%.

According to experts, the reason for these benefits comes from flavonoids in dark chocolate that produce nitric oxide which relaxes the blood vessels and ultimately reduces blood pressure. Additional heart benefits include lower risk of stroke, increased coronary health, reduced risk of blood clots, and improved blood circulation.

 

Balance Cholesterol

There are many measurable benefits of dark chocolate related to cholesterol. Basically, it has been found that consuming cocoa powder significantly decreases bad cholesterol while simultaneously increasing good cholesterol. By adding almonds to the mix, the chances of lowering bad cholesterol are even better, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association.

 

Increase Cognitive Function

Research shows additional brain-health benefits of eating dark chocolate regularly. Cognitive functions such as verbal fluency show improvement in older adults after consuming cocoa for five days. Beyond that, neurostimulation from chocolate consumption has been proven to improve mood, reduce stress, and improve memory.

Cocoa contains natural stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine which are believed to be the key substances that improve cognitive function. Most studies focus specifically on the properties of cocoa, however, according to Harvard Medical School, there are benefits to any form of chocolate - provided it contains significant amounts of cocoa and low sugar content - including hot chocolate!

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Balance Blood Sugar and Prevents Diabetes

Similar to the benefits for the heart, the flavanols in dark chocolate have been known to reduce insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and improve blood sugar levels. It is important to note that sugary chocolates or milk chocolate with high fat content may produce the opposite effect on diabetic individuals due to artificial additives. Make note of the cocoa and sugar content in the chocolate you plan to eat, and remember - the higher the cocoa content the better.

 

Improve Gut Health and Help With Weight Loss

You may be thinking, “Wait, eating candy can make me LOSE weight?”. The cautious answer is yes and no. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate daily has been shown to help control appetite when eaten before or after meals according to Neuroscientist Will Clower, PhD. In addition, nutrients like fiber in natural chocolate act as a prebiotic to instigate healthy bacteria growth. It is important to note that high-sugar chocolate or large quantities can produce the opposite effect.

 

May Prevent Certain Forms of Cancer

While researchers are constantly developing new theories about cancer, research from the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of American Society of Hypertension walk through the potential benefits of chocolate in cancer prevention.

 

Improve Skin Health

Most people believe that chocolate consumption leads to increased acne, however, this is only true for high sugar chocolates. Chocolate made with natural cocoa actually contributes to younger-looking skin, skin repair, and protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays.


 

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Helps Fetal Growth and Development

According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, eating one ounce of chocolate daily during pregnancy shows improved fetal growth and development.

 

Improve Athletic Performance

Regular, small-dose consumption of chocolate prior to exercise has been proven to increase circulation and oxygen in the body during athletic activities.

 

Anti-inflammatory

Ever wondered why women crave chocolate during that oh-so-lovely time of the month? It is because cravings are the result of the body communicating a hormonal or nutritional need. Eating chocolate during times of high inflammation can reduce discomfort and swelling or bloating.

 

Nutritious and Antioxidant-Rich

You’ve probably noticed a theme here, nutrients. Cocoa has a surprising amount of natural nutrients that benefit all systems of the body including the following:

  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Now that you know the facts, we hope you find a way to enjoy all the benefits of chocolate in your own daily life!