Dark chocolate is made by adding sugar and fat to cocoa. Cocoa, a powder made from the nutrient rich seeds of the cacao tree, is the primary ingredient in all types of chocolate. Because of its lack of milk and relatively pure form, the benefits of dark chocolate are different from milk chocolate.
Here are 6 health benefits of dark chocolate:
High In Antioxidants
Dark chocolate has more antioxidant activity than milk chocolate. Research shows that consuming milk along with dark chocolate prevents the absorption of antioxidants. To get the most antioxidants out of chocolate, it is best to go with dark.
Recent studies suggest that chocolate may contribute to good cardiovascular health. The plant phenols in dark chocolate help reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow and may have minor anti-clotting effects as well. The antioxidants in chocolate help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Dark chocolate is also a great source of copper and potassium, which are known to be essential minerals in maintaining good cardiovascular health.
Cocoa is a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and potassium. These minerals are essential for healthy bone growth and reducing the risk of bone disease like osteoporosis.
Not only does chocolate contain a good amount of iron, but it is an excellent source of copper, which helps the body absorb iron.
Many of the complex compounds found in chocolate have mild, positive impacts on the brain. Caffeine and theobromine act as mild stimulants to increase brain activity and phenylethylamine (PEA) releases endorphins in the brain. This may attribute to the blissful, sometimes sensual feelings one obtains after eating chocolate. In fact, PEA is the same chemical the brain releases when people are “falling in love.” Additionally, lab rats have shown signs of increased cognitive function when given supplements of the same compounds found in chocolate.
Aside from the known effects that eating foods high in antioxidants has on preventing cancer, there is no definitive research to suggest that dark chocolate or other cocoa products alone can help prevent or treat cancer. However, preliminary lab tests are promising. It is thought that consumption of dark chocolate may help inhibit tumor growth and reduce the growth of cancer cells.