Chocolate is REALLY Good for Your Health
Whoa, whoa, whoa… get back here. Now before you go out and buy copious amounts of Hershey’s Kisses and Mars Bars, allow me to clarify something.
DARK chocolate is really good for your health – not milk chocolate.
What’s the Difference Between Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate?
Here’s the main difference beyond color:
- Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that are very beneficial to your health.
- Milk chocolate is loaded with sugar that is not at all beneficial to your health.
Any questions? What is dark chocolate exactly? Excellent question!
Dark chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree, which, if you don’t know, happens to be one of the best sources of antioxidants on the entire planet.
You may have heard dark chocolate referred to by some of its other names such as bittersweet and semisweet chocolate. It gets these monikers because it does not contain the dreadful amount of sugar that regular milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also contains little to no milk solids, hence milk chocolate/dark chocolate.
The easiest way to know if the chocolate you are buying is dark is to select one with a 70% or higher total cocoa content. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain exactly how to select the healthiest chocolate at the end of this article. But first, let’s devour some health benefits of dark chocolate. (Did you see what I did there?)
Fantastic Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
It’s Incredibly Nutritious
The reason I hinted at buying dark chocolate with at least a 70% cocoa content, is because it’s that cocoa that packs the biggest nutritional punch! For this reason, dark chocolate offers a healthy dose of soluble fiber. And, when you make sure your bar contains between 70-85% cocoa, you know you’re also getting a decent amount of minerals:
- 67% of the RDI for iron
- 58% of the RDI for magnesium
- 89% of the RDI for copper
- 98% of the RDI for manganese
Dark chocolate also boasts a good amount of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Having said this, these figures are for a 3.5 ounce piece of dark chocolate, which is a fairly big piece, so you shouldn’t consume that much on a daily basis. But still, I want you to recognize the nutrients that are on dark chocolate.
Oh, I almost forgot! Dark chocolate also contains healthy fatty acids, mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
It’s a Powerful Source of Antioxidants
You never really know what goes on behind closed laboratory doors. For instance, researchers have created battles between free radicals and different types of foods, to see which foods have the best chances of beating the free radicals. And it turns out that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are particularly good at disarming free radicals.
Basically, researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of a food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” the radicals. It turns out that the organic compounds in cocoa beans, such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, (among others) are particularly good at beating the stuffing out of free radicals!
One study even showed that dark chocolate has more antioxidant activity than any of the other fruits they tested. And that includes blueberries and acai berries. That’s pretty impressive!
It May Reduce Your Risk of Developing Heart Disease
There are compounds in dark chocolate that seem to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL (lousy cholesterol). What does this mean in plain English? It means less cholesterol to lodge in your arteries and cause a blockage.
Beyond that, dark chocolate has also been shown to raise HDL, or good cholesterol.
Dark Chocolate May Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that the flavanols in dark chocolate have the ability to stimulate the lining of the arteries, which in turn produces nitric oxide. Why is this important? Because nitric oxide sends signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefor reduces blood pressure.
How to Select the Healthiest Dark Chocolate
Now that you know dark chocolate offers some impressive health benefits, you’ll want to start buying it as opposed to the milk chocolate variety. So here’s what to look for:
1) Look for bars that are made with as few ingredients as possible. We’re going for a healthy snack, not one loaded with unnecessary chemicals.
2) The best dark chocolate will have cocoa listed as the first ingredient. It can be written differently though so look for cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and/or cocoa butter.
3) What should NOT be listed as the first ingredient is sugar. All dark chocolate will have some sugar in it. If it didn’t it would simply be too bitter to eat. But some brands go overboard so read the ingredient list and make sure sugar is not first. And your best bet is to choose a bar where sugar is listed last.
4) Again, go for a bar that is at least 70% cocoa, but more is better and will offer more health benefits we’ve discussed.
5) Dark chocolate bars are often flavored with extracts, oils and spices to give them a bit if zing. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to tell on a food label which flavors are natural and which are artificial. Your best bet is to always choose a bar that is organic. That way you can be sure the flavors are not artificial.
Dark Chocolate is Not the Only Way to Lower Your Blood Pressure
If you’re looking for other natural ways to lower your blood pressure, then I encourage you to watch this shocking news presentation. You’ll learn exactly how one doctor is helping her patients lower their blood pressure ONCE AND FOR ALL and throw away their prescription medications.