The science of dark chocolate is the kind of science everyone can get behind. This rich, decadent, delicious treat has been studied and examined in laboratories (and kitchens) for decades. And since the roots of dark chocolate go back literally thousands of years, there has to be a reason why it’s had this kind of staying power.
Every now and again, dark chocolate pops up in the news because another study has unlocked some of its great mysteries. But what people really want to know is: is dark chocolate – say a square a day – good for you?
The short answer is…yes! A square of dark chocolate each day has multiple, proven benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. There are, of course, some caveats to this great news, but we’ll get into that a little later.
First, let’s look at just a few of the many benefits of this wonderful, ancient, satisfying confection.
Benefits of Having A Square of Dark Chocolate
Plenty of Minerals
It can be challenging to meet all of the recommended daily requirements for a healthy body, but dark chocolate, with 70-85% cocoa can help by providing a range of minerals, including these percentages of the daily recommendations of:
- Iron – 67%
- Magnesium – 58%
- Copper – 89%
- Manganese – 98% (!!)
A small amount of dark chocolate also contains 11 grams of fiber, making this a well-rounded and excellent snack that does the body good.
Lower Blood Pressure
Millions of people live with high blood pressure, which puts stress and strain on the body, and especially the heart. Eating dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure if you have mild high blood pressure (and if it is part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle). It has been found that the flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate artery lining, and produce nitric oxide as a side effect. In turn, NO sends signals to the arteries to relax, thereby lowering the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
These findings have been repeated across, many controlled studies, showing that dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. However, dark chocolate should not be a replacement for medical advice.
The term antioxidants came onto the scene in a big way a few years ago, with it now being a common buzzword and pasted on a variety of Superfoods. However, dark chocolate is actually loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and that function as healthy antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.
But what do antioxidants really do? Well, they help protect the body’s cells and tissues from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that alter and weaken cells and often raid the body when it is exposed to prolonged levels of stress, poor diet, and other pollutants from the environment.
In fact, it’s been found that dark chocolate contains more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavanols than that heavy hitter – the Acai berry. So if you really want to go for it with the antioxidants, add some cocoa nibs, blueberries and acai berries to your next smoothie and say sayonara to those free-loading free radicals.
You know how when you do something good for yourself or for someone else, you get that boost of a feeling in your brain and body and you simply feel good? Well, there is a chemical reaction happening there, where your body is getting a rush of hormones and chemicals that trip the circuits in your brain to happy mode. And luckily for all of us, dark chocolate has the ability to do just that!
Science has determined that there is a chemical connection between dark chocolate and the feeling of happiness. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that’s also released in the brain during what people might describe as euphoria. It also contains anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter that makes you feel more relaxed and less anxious.
And once you feel good, everything else kinda feels better, too. Stress melts away, worries dissolve, and perspective shifts. So, if eating a square of dark chocolate every day can do all that, we say go to town!
Don’t Forget Moderation
Here’s where we’re going to jump in and add a word of caution. Dark chocolate has a lot of benefits that can positively impact your health. But it also carries a lot of calories and is no replacement for other positive health habits. A square or two of dark chocolate a day is plenty, but if you are someone who has trouble with self-control when it comes to treats (guilty!), it’s a good idea to really consider dark chocolate a treat, and not the answer to your troubles.
For reference, 1-2 ounces (or 30-60g), is the “sweet spot” for dark chocolate intake, experts say. Indulge in anything more than that, and you may be consuming too many calories.
To put things into perspective, here is what you would have to do for exercise to burn off the calories in a 170-calorie bar (just one of these options):
- 44 minutes of walking
- 19 minutes jogging
- 14 minutes of swimming
- 23 minutes cycling
As they say, “the dose is the poison.” In that, too much of any good thing becomes harmful to the body. So yes, go ahead and enjoy a square of two of dark chocolate, perhaps it can be a reward for a nice balanced meal and meeting your exercise goals for the day or week. But also, we all deserve a little break these days, and if dark chocolate is what you crave to de-stress and relax, that sounds like a pretty harmless treat to enjoy.
Lots of stores provide dark square chocolate online, get it today!