Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (The Real Truth)

Quick Summary of Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
1. What Is Dark Chocolate?
2. What’s the Difference Between Dark Chocolate and Semisweet Chocolate?
3. Why Does Dark Chocolate Taste Bitter?
4. Dark Chocolate Is Rich With Antioxidants
5. Dark Chocolate Promotes A Healthy Cholesterol Profile
6. Dark Chocolate Helps Lower Blood Pressure
7. Dark Chocolate Boosts Cognitive Function
8. Dark Chocolate Strengthens The Heart
9. Dark Chocolate May Enhance Vision
10. Dark Chocolate May Help Prevent Cancer
11. Dark Chocolate May Protect Skin From UV Rays

Chocolate can’t be healthy, can it? Well, no one is saying a Snickers Bar is healthy. That’s milk chocolate. We’re talking about dark chocolate. You’ve heard people say that dark chocolate is actually good for you. Is it really true? How is dark chocolate different from milk chocolate and what is it that makes it healthy? These questions and more will be answered right here. The real truth about the health benefits of dark chocolate explained.

1. What Is Dark Chocolate?

There are different kinds of chocolate, as you know. Though there are subsets within some of these, there are mainly three varieties. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on dark. So, what makes dark chocolate dark chocolate? Its main characteristic is that it contains somewhere between 70-99% pure cacao. (Cacao is the true name of the cocoa bean, from which chocolate is made).

Because there is currently no FDA standard for dark chocolate, some products set the cacao percentage even lower. Around 60% or less, sometimes.

Milk chocolate, on the other hand, contains a very low percentage of pure cacao. How does cacao lose it purity? After harvesting, the beans often go through a process that strips them of most of their nutrients. This process can involve fermenting, drying, roasting, alkalizing, adding milk, and adding sugar. In some countries, they even wash the beans in a potassium solution. All these activities remove natural nutrients from the cocoa beans. Dark chocolate, however, is made from cacao that does not go through these processes. Pure cacao retains all its natural health benefits.

2. What’s the Difference Between Dark Chocolate and Semisweet Chocolate?

The truth is that they’re basically the same thing because neither contains milk, whereas milk chocolate does. Semisweet chocolate differs slightly from dark chocolate in one way. With semisweet, sugar makes up “no more than 50% of the mass of the chocolate.” But remember that there’s no official FDA definition. This is what you’d call a general consensus.

White is the most unhealthy kind of chocolate. It only contains cocoa butter. No cocoa solids at all.

Note: SafeSweets offers semisweet chocolate (53% cacao, to be precise).

3. Why Does Dark Chocolate Taste Bitter?

If you’ve tasted dark chocolate before, you know it has a distinct flavor. It’s richer and more bitter than milk chocolate because of its pure cacao content. The taste tends to be one of those things you either love or hate.

Alright. Now that you know what it is, let’s talk about the health benefits of dark chocolate.

4. It’s Rich In Antioxidants

This is the most widely advertised benefit of dark chocolate, and rightly so. What’s an antioxidant? They are beneficial compounds that inhibit cell damage by getting rid of waste products and cleaning up cells. The harmful waste products they get rid of are called free radicals.

Free radicals are unbalanced, reactive compounds that cause damage by binding to the cell. They attack our body’s natural abilities to fight everyday-environmental toxins that are all around us. Antioxidants help cells prevent free radicals from binding. Consuming large amounts of antioxidants result in many other health benefits, as well. In fact, studies have shown that the antioxidant count in unprocessed dark chocolate is comparable to many “super fruits”. Pomegranates, blueberries, cranberries, and açaí, for example.

There are many kinds of antioxidants. Two that are abundant in dark chocolate cocoa are polyphenols and flavonoids. Antioxidants also contain large amounts of minerals, vitamins, and another compound called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are nutrient-rich compounds that come from plants. Of all the foods that are rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate is near the top of the list.

5. It Promotes A Healthy Cholesterol Profile

Too much cholesterol is not good, as you know. Most candy and chocolate products contain unhealthy amounts of it. But not dark chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate contains good amounts of palmitic and stearic acids. These two acids have almost no effect on cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate also has high amounts of oleic acid which are healthy, monounsaturated fat.

What are the health benefits of these things? It can reduce inflammation, lower platelet reactivity, and enhance lipid profiles. Some data strongly suggests that eating dark chocolate regularly for even one week significantly improves a person’s cholesterol profile.

6. It Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Academic research on dark chocolate’s effect on blood pressure is ongoing even today. Many of the studies involve diabetics eating dark chocolate for anywhere between 6 and 8 weeks. Blood pressure is measured along the way. Results have been very positive. Some of the diabetics in these studies ate less than one ounce of dark chocolate per day for 8 weeks. Their blood pressure lowered considerably.

7. It Boosts Cognitive Function

In the section above we mentioned antioxidants called flavonoids. These antioxidants are linked to many wonderful benefits associated with brain function. Regular consumption of cocoa rich in flavanol is believed to lower the risk of strokes, dementia, and other side effects of the aging mind. It does this by increasing blood flow to cerebral gray matter.

8. It Strengthens The Heart

Flavonoids (particularly one called Flavanols) are the most prevalent antioxidants in dark chocolate. Many of dark chocolate’s health benefits stem from the high amount of flavonoids. In addition to the cognitive benefits, they also have data-supported heart benefits. Blood platelets become less sticky when flavonoids are consumed regularly. This lowers the risk of strokes and blood clots. Blood flow is also improved. In other words, heart circulation is measurably upgraded.

9. It May Enhance Vision

There is still much more research to be done before declaring this benefit a sure thing. But, as of now, there is enough positive data to at least begin the discussion. Some dark chocolate studies have shown that heightened visual acuity and sensitivity were experienced by study participants. Though further testing is required, so far the outlook is good.

10. It May Help Prevent Cancer

We know what you’re thinking. Every day it seems there’s new information released that Food A is linked to cancer and Food B causes it. But similar to the potential vision effects, enough research suggests that dark chocolate may help prevent cancer. This is based on the extremely high antioxidant count found in dark chocolate. Because of the protective nature of antioxidants, it’s possible that eating dark chocolate may have very real cancer-preventing qualities.

11. It May Protect Skin From UV Rays

The nature of the flavonoids found in dark chocolate may protect skin from sun damage. We already know that flavonoids improve overall blood flow. Effective blood flow is essential to the body’s natural method of protecting skin from the sun’s rays. Flavonoids are also believed to increase skin hydration and density.

Though some studies have been done, the evidence is not yet conclusive.

Additional Information

-Cacao beans, as they’re usually called, are actually not beans. They’re seeds. The Theobromoa cacao tree produces fruit, and cacao “beans” are the seeds found in said fruit. Dark chocolate is made by drying these seeds and then processing them. The amount and method of processing determine how healthy or unhealthy the chocolate ends up being.

-There are many other nutrients found in dark chocolate. For instance: manganese, magnesium, iron, fiber, copper, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium.

-Most dark chocolate contains sugar to some degree. This is important to mention because even healthy food should be eaten in moderation. Dark chocolate is no different. It also contains a good amount of calories. So, like any food, don’t overeat it.

-Cacao butter has it’s own health benefits. Like cacao beans, cacao butter is high in antioxidants, particularly phytochemicals. It’s also high in fatty acids. This is why it’s included as a main ingredient in many skin products like lotion rejuvenating cream. It helps the skin to hold in moisture by making a protective barrier when applied.

-An average-sized bar of dark chocolate (about 100 grams) contains around 75-80% cocoa. It also contains the following recommended daily doses: iron (67%), magnesium (58%), copper (89%), manganese (98%).

-Mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats are found in dark chocolate. It usually contains a little bit of polyunsaturated fat, but not much at all. Dark chocolate has a great fatty acid profile.

-Small amounts of caffeine and theobromine – both stimulants – are found in dark chocolate. But the amounts are so small that it’s not likely to give you much of a pick-up, if at all.

health benefits of dark chocolate

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (The Real Truth)

Safe Sweets is a US-based company that offers allergy-free and allergy-friendly chocolates. Many of the products offered by Safe Sweets have zero allergic ingredients, which means that customers with a history of food allergy can buy its products without hesitation. And because their facility is 100% nut-free and dairy-free, there is no chance of cross-contamination from shared equipment, utensils, or the like. If you are looking for an allergy-free or allergy-friendly chocolate option for you or your children, visit today for an amazing line of delicious, allergy-safe products.

Related Projects