The saying ‘all fingers are not equal’ seems to have a literal link to chocolates..Not all chocolates are created equal.
Chocolates are made from cocoa and the percentage of cocoa in a chocolate contributes to its colour with its undergone process.
Dark chocolate has at least 35% of cocoa to be called dark and the best for the heart because it contains the highest percentage of the flavonoid-filled cocoa bean,Milk chocolate contains 10% of cocoa while white chocolate is simply made of cocoa butter.
The flavonoids in cocoa helps the heart in so many great ways through controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, improving blood flow to vital organs, reducing risks of blood clot and inhibiting sticky platelets.
1.Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health generally.
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.
It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates.
It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.
2.Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants
Have you ever heard of a measure called ORAC?
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.
Basically, researchers pit a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” them.
The biological relevance of this metric is questioned, because it’s done in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.
However, I think it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest scoring foods that have been tested.
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.
One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.
3. Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.
However, there is also one study in people with elevated blood pressure that showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.
4. Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.
In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.
It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol (9).
Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.
This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage .
Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
5. Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.
In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.
However, given that we have a biological mechanism (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL) then I find it plausible that regular consumption of dark chocolate can in fact reduce the risk of heart disease.
6. Dark Chocolate May Protect Your Skin Against The Sun
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.
The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.
In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks
If you’re planning on a beach vacation, consider loading up on dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months.
7.Dark Chocolates May Improve Brain Function
The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.
Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease
Take Home Message
There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease.
But of course, this doesn’t mean people should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat on. Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savor them.
Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.
Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.