Did you know that the average American eats roughly 12 pounds of chocolate a year?
Most of that is probably around certain holidays like Halloween and Christmas. Now this wouldn’t be such a frightening statistic if the chocolate they consumed was dark chocolate, as that offers a lot of health benefits!
6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you know I’ve touted the benefits of dark chocolate before. Well, I want to share some more benefits with you right now and start with some that are focused on cancer prevention:
1. Dark Chocolate Fights Free Radicals
One of the biggest benefits of dark chocolate is that it’s loaded with powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals are harmful compounds that contribute to inflammation and hence, the development of many diseases such as cancer.
Thanks to dark chocolate’s antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, you can help protect yourself from all kinds of disease. And the darker your chocolate, the higher the cacao percentage and the more antioxidants you’ll be able to consume.
2. Potential Cancer Prevention
Studies have shown that dark chocolate may have specific benefits when it comes to preventing certain cancers like colon cancer. In one study, dark chocolate was able to effectively reduce the growth and spread of colon cancer cells in rats. Another scientific reviews noted that dark chocolate may help protect against colorectal cancer due to its ability to reduce inflammation and decrease oxidative stress, thereby blocking the growth of cancer cells.
So why not add some dark chocolate to your diet to help you prevent cancer and other diseases from developing. But dark chocolate offers even more benefits.
3. Heart Health
The flavanols found in dark chocolate have been found, according to Cleveland Clinic research, to have a very positive effect on heart health. It seems they have the ability to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. And, these flavanols also help prevent blood platelets from clotting, which could greatly reduce a person’s risk of having a stroke.
4. A Better Cholesterol Profile
Because dark chocolate contains cocoa butter, it is an excellent source of healthy fats and polyphenols, those other antioxidants I mentioned. These both contribute to a better lipid profile when consumed on a regular basis. In fact, according to a study published in Southern Medical Journal, eating dark chocolate for just one week decreased platelet reactivity and reduced inflammation, leading to a significantly improved lipid profile of participants.
Other studies showed that consuming flavonoid-rich chocolate was effective at reducing levels of total and bad LDL cholesterol, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease.
5. Brain Health
As I mentioned a little bit ago, dark chocolate not only increases blood flow to the heart, but also to the brain. This is why some health experts believe it can potentially aid in the treatment of brain issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming flavonoid-rich foods like dark chocolate, wine and tea was linked to better brain function and improved cognitive performance.
6. Protects Skin Health
Thanks to that flavonol content, dark chocolate may have the ability to also protect against sun damage. One study found that eating flavonol-rich chocolate could help prevent damage caused by ultraviolet light. This may mean dark chocolate can also help protect against skin cancer. I wish I had known that 30 years ago!
Now you have to admit, that is an impressive list of health benefits, and it’s not even an exhaustive list!
But before letting you go I want to make one thing very clear, these benefits come by eating DARK CHOCOLATE, not milk chocolate. Not that stuff your kids will bring home by the bagful in just a few weeks. Dark chocolate does not suit everyone’s palate right away. It is not loaded with sugar like milk chocolate is. But it is delicious.
Also, even though it has far less sugar than milk chocolate, it still has fat and calories, so be sure to eat in moderation. A tiny square of dark chocolate daily is plenty!
See, being healthy can be delicious!