If you’re looking for a little treat that won’t pack on the pounds or up your risk of diabetes, look no further. The answer is fruit. Not what you had in mind? Okay, let’s talk chocolate.
Dark chocolate can be a healthy indulgence as long as you watch your portions. It has a fair bit of nutrition and antioxidants that can protect your body and just make you feel good.
Read on for all the justification you need to indulge in a little chocolate every day.
- Protects Against Heart Disease
Because the compounds in dark chocolate protect against the oxidation of LDL, less cholesterol will lodge in the arteries over time, lowering the risk of heart disease. Eating dark chocolate twice per week seems to reduce the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. But why stop there? Eating dark chocolate more than 5x per week could lower the risk of heart disease by up to 57%!
Studies done on this effect have been largely observational, so we can’t be positive that it was the chocolate and nothing else that improved life expectancy.
However, we know that lowering blood pressure and oxidized LDL reduces the risk of heart disease, and that the antioxidants in dark chocolate have this effect. It’s not an unreasonable leap to credit the sweet indulgence.
- Stronger Brain Function
It’s all about the blood flow. Not just great for your heart and your skin, better blood flow to the brain makes a huge impact on cognition.
Healthy volunteers in a study that asked them to eat high-flavonol cocoa for five days all showed improved blood flow to the brain. It looks like cocoa can also help elderly people with mental impairment regain some lost verbal fluency.
We want to credit the antioxidant content of dark chocolate for the boost of brain function, and it certainly plays a key role. But let’s not forget the caffeine in chocolate, which gives your brain some nice stimulation in the short term. Nothing wrong with that – just giving credit where credit is due.
You have to eat dark chocolate, rather than milk or white (which doesn’t actually count as chocolate at all) to benefit from nutrition. But when you choose dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa, you’ll find that one 100-gram bar contains 11 grams of fiber and most of your daily recommended value for copper and manganese.
You’ll also get more than half of your daily iron and magnesium, plus some potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
However, 100 grams is probably more than you should eat in one day, as it also comes with 600 calories. Read the label to determine how much you can splurge on without exceeding a safe amount of added sugar.