For more than 3,000 years, chocolate has been used for its healing properties. Flash forward to today, and scientists are finding scientific evidence for the healing properties of chocolate, or at least, dark chocolate.
Like green tea and red wine, dark chocolate contains polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body’s cells defend against free radicals from environmental toxins and diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and chronic inflammation. What’s more, dark chocolate was found to contain more phenolic antioxidants than any food, according to a study by Yale University Prevention Research Center.
If you want to know more about the healing properties of dark chocolate, have a look at the five health benefits listed below.
It’s good for the circulatory system: A total of three studies have found that consumption of dark chocolate helps improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, lowers LDL blood cholesterol (bad cholesterol), increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), improves vascular function, and reduces the risk of stroke. Another study of overweight men done at Wageningen University in the Netherlands also discovered that consuming dark chocolate daily for four weeks helped restore flexibility to arteries and helped prevent white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. This is significant because arterial rigidity and white blood cell adhesion are both factors in heart disease.
It’s good for brain cognition and your mood: In the UK, researchers confirmed that eating dark chocolate provides an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions. Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Australia, scientists at Swinburne University revealed “significantly increased self-rated calmness and contentedness relative to placebo” in participants who consumed a dark-chocolate drink mix for 30 days.
It’s high in minerals: Beyond antioxidants, dark chocolate is a mineral powerhouse. One ounce of dark chocolate—recommended daily serving—contains the following daily recommended doses of minerals: copper (25 percent), calcium (2 percent), iron (19 percent), magnesium (16 percent), potassium (6 percent), and zinc (6 percent).
It has anti-inflammatory properties: It has been shown that the phytochemicals in dark chocolate have anti-inflammatory properties. That said, those anti-inflammatory benefits will be canceled out if you eat chocolate with high sugar content. Sugar is an inflammatory food, so go for chocolate with a high cocoa content and the least amount of sugar.
It improves insulin sensitivity: A new study from Queen Margaret University in the UK shows that dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin resistance by decreasing glucose levels in non-diabetic adults.
Before you start chowing down on dark chocolate, you must know that this treatment also has downsides. For instance, dark chocolate contains caffeine, which may hinder your ability to fall asleep, On top of that, dark chocolate contains a component found in many plants and animals called oxalates, which can increase the risk of kidney stones.
The point is that when it comes to dark chocolate, moderation is key. And if you go for dark chocolate that is low in sugar and high in cacao, then you will maximize the health benefits. Enjoy!