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Seven health benefits of eating dark chocolate

More than a comfort food, dark chocolate can improve your health in many ways.

If you’re used to eating sugar-filled milk chocolate then the unsweetened and bitter dark variety may be an acquired taste. But eat this nutritious food as part of a healthy diet and you’ll provide your body with a whole host of health benefits.

The cocoa bean grows natively in South and Central America and is used to make both dark (good) chocolate and milk (bad) chocolate. This bean is highly nutritious in its natural state but when you add milk and sugar the health benefits diminish.

To reap the rewards from dark chocolate it has to have a cocoa concentration of at least 85 percent. Lindt and Green & Black’s are two dark chocolate companies that sell this kind.

Make dark chocolate a part of your overall food intake and you’ll receive the following benefits.

1. Dark chocolate is highly nutritious

Dark chocolate is full of minerals. According to Nutritional Data a 100g bar contains 98 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Manganese, 89 percent for Copper, 67 percent for Iron and 58 percent for Magnesium. That’s a lot of nutrients from just 100 grams.

2. It is full of antioxidants

Anything that prevents your body’s cells from damaging themselves must be good right? Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that do just that. Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which support the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and they have been associated with decreased risk of certain cancers too. Dark chocolate has a higher antioxidant score than even blueberries.

3. It helps raise “good cholesterol” HDL and fights against “bad cholesterol LDL

According to Authority Nutrition, dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease by lowering the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.

4. It may reduce high blood pressure

While not certain, some research has concluded that the flavanol-rich foods like dark chocolate may help reduce high blood pressure. A 2012 review of the available evidence on chocolate’s effects on blood pressure found cocoa may help lower blood pressure. The authors of the review say the research requires further trials to attain conclusive evidence on the long-term benefits.

5. It is good for your brain health

According to Be Brain Fit dark chocolate improves brain health in a number of ways. It makes you feel happy by producing endorphins, improves blood flow to the brain, protects the brain against free radicals and improves learning, memory and focus.

6. It is good for your heart health

A recent study published in the journal Heart found that people who eat dark chocolate regularly had a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes compared to those that didn’t eat it at all. Also, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that flavanols help restore flexibility to arteries and prevent white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both of which play a significant role in atherosclerosis.

7. It is good for your gut health

Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols which are released from the food after the gut microbes digest them. Polyphenols remove bad bacteria while helping to grow the good kind.

Eat away until your heart’s content. Be mindful of the high calories, however.

Bonus tip

Using cocoa butter, cocoa powder and fruit extract sweetener you can make your own dark chocolate like I have below. Add some nuts and a few dried fruits and you’re good.

dark chocolate

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