What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? In the last few years, research on the health benefits of dark chocolate has started piling up, which has been welcome news for many! To have permission, encouragement event, to indulge in some dark chocolate occasionally? Yes, please!
So what are some of the compounds or substances in dark chocolate (note that we’re referring to dark chocolate—preferably with at least 70% cacao content—and not white or milk chocolate) that provide possible health benefits?
Flavonoids are a specific group of polyphenols (which are a group of non-enzymatic antioxidants) that provide not only bitter taste in dark chocolate, but some of the health benefits, as well. The possible health benefits of flavonoids appear to be linked to their activity as antioxidants. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory properties.
What are some studies that have shown the antioxidant effects of dark chocolate? Here are two different studies mentioned in a recent Huffington Post article:
According to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, the same antioxidant properties found in red wine that protect against heart disease are also found in comparable quantities in chocolate.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adding only half an ounce of dark chocolate to an average American diet is enough to increase total antioxidant capacity 4 percent, and lessen oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, which may aid the heart, relax smooth muscles, dilate blood vessels, and may help improve mood and sense of well-being. In fact, the name of the plant from which cacao beans come is the theobroma cacao plant, which is translated as “food of the gods” (theo = god, broma = food).
What is the connection between your gut and chocolate? Researchers have been finding that microbes in your gut feast on cocoa powder and “turn it into compounds known to help the heart.”
We always knew we loved chocolate, but now there’s an extra incentive to make sure we’re getting high-quality dark chocolate into our diet—health benefits!