The antioxidants in chocolate neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, both of which are part of the body’s natural aging process. So, chocolate is a great anti-aging food to enjoy, within reason.
We enjoy eating several types of chocolate, but not all chocolate is created equal. Milk chocolate has less cocoa, more sugar, more milk, and much fewer health benefits. It has been a favorite for many years because we like our sweets! Then there are the healthier chocolates that contain over 70 percent more cocoa, a lot less sugar, healthy fats, and no milk, i.e., dark chocolate.
Chocolate has been used for over 3000 years for its healing properties, starting with the Mayan empire. The best dark chocolate is 70 to 90 percent cocoa.
6. Fend Off Weight Gain
Chocolates with high amounts of cocoa have flavanol compounds of epicatechin, catechins, and procyanidins, which are healthy for your body and can induce satiety.
5. Lower Stress and Improve Brain Cognition
Dark chocolate decreases the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you feeling less anxious and stressed. It may also interact with brain neurotransmitters and release feel-good endorphins. A Yale University Prevention Research Center study reported positive effects on cognitive functions of the brain.
4. Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease
Eating dark chocolate reduces your risks of chronic disease (for instance, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke) due to its flavonoids and polyphenol compounds.
3. Better Digestive Health
Polyphenol compounds in dark chocolate help by promoting anti-inflammatory bacteria in your gut’s microbiome. It behaves like a prebiotic, which then forms the probiotic bacteria needed to protect the gut.
2. Decreases Inflammation
If you have chronic inflammation, you want to decrease it since this can increase the risk of many diseases. Studies on dark chocolate found moderate prevention and repair of cell damage from inflammation.
In a 2018 study, they found eating 30 grams of 84 percent dark chocolate over eight weeks significantly reduced inflammatory markers in people with type 2 diabetes.
1. Lowers Cholesterol and Helps Heart Health
Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and theobromine that may lower levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad cholesterol ratio. And it can increase the good cholesterol portion of the high density lipoproteins (HDL). It also improves blood flow and vascular function.
Eating a minimum serving of one to two squares or pieces of chocolate per day increases health benefits, but limit it further if you are trying to lose weight and counting calories.
Moderation is the key for chocolate, for it does contain caffeine and increases the chance of kidney stones due to high oxalates, so be careful if you are prone to kidney stone issues.