Is dark chocolate healthy for you? When you think of healthy foods to stock, chocolate may not be on your list. However, dark chocolate has actually been touted for many years to have a variety of health benefits, but is it really healthy for you?
Is Dark Chocolate Healthy For You?
The simple answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean you should go out and devour all the chocolate your heart desires. Moderation is key, here. Additionally, this only applies to dark chocolate that is not loaded with sugar and saturated fat.
Many studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate regularly can have huge benefits. In fact, it’s loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, this may be one of the best ones for you to eat.
Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
Dark chocolate is made from the seed of the cacao tree which is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Because of this, dark chocolate can improve your health and help lower the risk of heart disease. Here are 7 health benefits from eating dark chocolate in moderation:
Believe it or not, dark chocolate is actually loaded with essential nutrients your body needs. In one 100-gram bar of dark chocolate that contains 70-85% cacao, you’ll get the following nutrients:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the Daily Value of iron
- 58% of the Daily Value of magnesium
- 89% of the Daily Value of copper
- 98% of the Daily Value of manganese
Additionally, dark chocolate provides you with potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and heart-healthy fatty acids.
Lots of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are crucial for your diet because they scavenge free radicals from your body’s cells and prevent or reduce damage caused by them. Free radicals alter lipids, proteins, and DNA as well as trigger a number of human diseases.
In addition to nutrients, dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants you can get. In fact, the cocoa in dark chocolate has more antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and flavonols than any other fruit, including blueberries and acai berries.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
Consuming dark chocolate helps control your good and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol contributes to strokes and heart disease. However, dark chocolate was found to decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. If you already have high cholesterol, dark chocolate is a way to get your sugar “fix” in a healthy way.
Helps Your Skin
Bioactive compounds found in dark chocolate can also help your skin. Specifically, flavanols protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to your skin, and increase skin density and hydration. This means if you want healthy, flawless-looking skin, you should definitely put some dark chocolate into your diet.
Improves Brain Function
One study showed that eating high flavanol cocoa for 5-days improved a person’s blood flow to the brain. With increased blood flow, you have increased brain function. Additionally, dark chocolate contains stimulants, like caffeine and theobromine, which can help you stay alert throughout the day.
There is also research that indicates dark chocolate stimulates your neural activity in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Stimulating those areas of your brain can decrease stress and improve your overall mood.
Reduces Blood Pressure
Another benefit of flavanols in dark chocolate is that they stimulate the endothelium (lining of your arteries) to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide sends signals to your arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance of blood flow and ultimately lowers your blood pressure. However, this is not a solution for high blood pressure as the effects are usually mild, but it is a good way to keep blood pressure in the normal range if you are just slightly elevated.
Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
When you have type 2 diabetes, you are insulin resistant which causes high glucose (sugar) levels in your blood. You may not think eating chocolate is the best way to prevent diabetes, but many studies have shown that moderate amounts of dark chocolate rich in cacao can improve how the body metabolizes glucose.
Scientists believe that oxidative stress is the primary cause of insulin resistance. But, the flavonoids found in dark chocolate reduce oxidative stress, thus improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Best Dark Chocolate to Stock
When you are choosing dark chocolate for its health benefits, not all dark chocolate is the same. Just because it says dark chocolate doesn’t mean it’s good for you. When choosing healthy dark chocolate, this is what you should look for on packages:
- High cacao content (70-85%)
- Low sugar content
- Few additives and overall ingredients
- No added flavor
- No preservatives
- Not “dutched” or processed with alkali
- Processed at a low temperature
Many dark chocolate brands are tagged with all sorts of marketing words, so you have to be careful when choosing what to stock. The healthiest dark chocolate brands to stock include:
- Hu Dark Chocolate
- Endangered Species
- Alter Eco
- Green & Blacks
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark
How Much Dark Chocolate Should You Eat a Day?
Although dark chocolate is a healthy treat, the key is to eat it in moderation. This is because regardless of the health benefits, it is still chocolate and high in calories and saturated fat. To avoid weight gain, it is recommended to only consume 1 ounce of dark chocolate per day. Keep in mind that a typical candy bar is 1.55 ounces. Look at the back of the label to ensure you are only eating as close to 1 ounce as possible.
How Do I Stock and Store Dark Chocolate?
Improperly stored dark chocolate can develop a grainy texture or white splotches. However, when it is stored correctly, it can last up to two years. Because you can store it for so long, this is a great long-term storage food that I highly recommend you stock and store. Follow the steps below to properly store and stock your dark chocolate:
- First, separate it into portions. Wrap each serving of chocolate in a paper towel and place it into separate quart sized freezer bags.
- Cool the chocolate. Place the bags of chocolate in the fridge for 15-minutes. Remove the paper towel and replace with a new one if you see condensation. Then, return the chocolate to the fridge for another hour.
- Discard the paper towels. Once the chocolate has cooled and you’ve removed the condensation, remove the paper towels and reseal the bag. Place the date on each bag with a permanent marker.
- Store the dark chocolate. You can store dark chocolate in the fridge for up to a year, or in the freezer for up to 2-years!
More Healthy Foods to Read About
- 10 Healthy Foods Under $1
- Honey Is One of the Most Healthy Natural Foods
- Health Benefits of Nuts
- 15 Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric
In case you missed my Texas Sheet Cake Recipe
Dark chocolate is a nutrient-dense snack that I highly recommend you stock. It’s a great source of nutrients and antioxidants. When shelves are empty, you may not be able to get anything to snack on, but if you stock chocolate, you’ll be able to stave off your sweet craving with a little chocolate. Remember, dark chocolate is only healthy in moderation, so don’t overdo it. Chocolate is great to stock up on, right? May God Bless this world, Linda
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