Almost everybody likes chocolate. It is usually thought of as a sinful decadence, something we eat when we are choosing to indulge. Chocolate is also synonymous with happiness; do you ever notice people who are eating chocolate always seem happy to be doing so? There’s a good reason for that! Chocolate has been shown to actually raise serotonin levels (the happiness hormone) within the brain. I should clarify here though, there is a huge difference between regular old, overly processed milk chocolate, and dark chocolate that has little or no milk added and significantly less sugar. The best quality dark chocolate has cocoa percentages ranging from 70 to 99%.
Here are the top five benefits of dark chocolate.
1. High Levels Of Antioxidants And Minerals
Did you know that chocolate has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any other food in the world? Yes, it is definitely a superfood. Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals that can cause cancer. Dark chocolate is also loaded with minerals such as: iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, fibre, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium.
2. Relieves Stress
As mentioned above, dark chocolate helps to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as an antidepressant and can lower levels of stress.A study performed by scientists in Switzerland determined that the chemical compounds found in dark chocolate play a key role in improving the stress levels of people who are prone to high stress levels. According to the study, eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks can actually reduce stress hormones. If using dark chocolate to lower stress in your life, make sure it is 85% cocoa or higher.
3. Lowers Cholesterol
The cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to reduce the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood – which can clog up the veins and inner walls of arteries – allowing for proper arterial function.
There has also been evidence to suggest that dark chocolate can increase the “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels in your body. Low LDL combined with high HDL levels can significantly reduce the risk of cardiac arrest and heart disease.
4. Improves Brain Power
A study conducted at the University of Nottingham determined that consuming dark chocolate can boost the blood flow to the brain for up to three hours. In turn, this improves short-term memory and alertness for short periods of time. Apparently, the cocoa can also help to improve concentration, response time, and memory recall. You should definitely consider eating some dark chocolate while studying for a test and right before taking one!
5. It’s a Delicious Healthy Treat
Dark chocolate (between 75-99%) is something you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. It is actually good for you, and as mentioned above, has numerous amazing health benefits. Meaning, you can eat it and know you’re doing your body a favour! Just be careful not to overdo it because many brands do contain a lot of sugar. Remember, the higher the cocoa percentage, the less sugar it has.
Have you ever had 99% cocoa chocolate? Now that is intense! You can eat the dark chocolate in bar form, or use cacoa powder or cacoa nibs in smoothies or baking.
Enjoy, much love!