Cocoa, known as “god food,” has been beloved by civilizations for centuries. It was considered an aphrodisiac and today, it’s consumed in large amounts. In fact, the average American eats about 9.5 pounds of chocolate each year. And this delicious dessert, when eaten in moderation, can have health benefits.
Types of Chocolate
While modern chocolate is made with lots of milk and sugar, it’s the key ingredient, cocoa, that contributes to all the health benefits. Milk chocolate and white chocolate are very popular, but they offer fewer health benefits because of their low cocoa levels. White chocolate does not actually contain chocolate at all, and milk chocolate contains a high amount of sugar and milk and only seven to fifteen percent of cocoa. Dark chocolate is a chocoholic’s best chance for reaping health benefits. Dark chocolate contains 30 to 70 percent of cocoa and generally has less sugar.
Is Chocolate Good for You?
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is potentially good for your health; however, you must eat the right kind of dark chocolate. Antioxidant flavonoids in cocoa are beneficial for our health; unfortunately, some chocolate production processes reduce the flavonoids in dark chocolate. As flavonoid levels are rarely listed on bars of chocolate, it can be a challenge to determine how “healthy” your dark chocolate bar is, but some chocolate companies have tried to rectify this.
5 Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
So, is dark chocolate healthy for you? It can be. Want to know what health benefits can you hope to gain from a small square of dark chocolate? Listed below are just five of the studied benefits.
- Heart health. In a chocolate study with nearly 21,000 participants, English researchers found that higher chocolate intake is associated with lower risk of future cardiovascular events, such as strokes, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.
- Stress. A study started by Ahmed Al Sunni and Rabia Latif found that consuming a daily dose of chocolate reduces perceived stress in female participants.
- Dementia. Italian researchers report that the cocoa polyphenols triggered a production that promotes neuron growth and protects aging brains from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Mood booster. Research shows that chocolate can have a strong influence on our mood. The polyphenols in dark chocolate promoted a feeling of calmness and contentedness among participants according to one particular study.
- Fatigue. Past research from Hull York Medical School found that dark chocolate, consumed in moderation, helped patients lower their fatigue levels. It is believed that the polyphenols in the dark chocolate improved their serotonin levels, which has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.