Chocolate is indulgent. Chocolate is bad for you. Chocolate is to blame for troublesome health issues, like weight gain and skin breakouts. These are some of the negative connotations that we often associate with chocolate.
But not all types of chocolate are created equal. While the highly processed and sugary brands may be unhealthy, numerous studies show that dark chocolate is actually good for you. This article summarizes some of the reasons you SHOULD eat dark chocolate for better mental and physical health.
Why Dark Chocolate?
It is a Powerful Antioxidant. Made from the cocoa tree, dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Flavonoids protect cells from free radical damage – a cause of accelerated aging. Research shows that the flavonoids in dark chocolate may protect the skin from harmful UV damage and accelerated aging, in turn.
Cell damage caused by free radicals also leads to heart disease. Therefore, another benefit of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may be heart disease prevention. One study showed that the consumption of dark chocolate and cocoa lowers blood pressure and improves vasodilation, which is the widening of the blood vessels.
It Promotes the Growth of Healthy Gut Bacteria. Another study revealed that consuming dark chocolate, in combination with probiotics, helps aid the growth of healthy gut bacteria. In turn, healthy gut bacteria are important for healthy skin and better overall health.
It Improves Mood and Reduces Stress. There may be a neurological reason why chocolate is one of the most popular comfort foods in the world. Chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, which promote feelings of pleasure in the brain. It also reduces stress hormones and feelings of anxiety. It even contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.
Ways to Enjoy Dark Chocolate
There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of dark chocolate. Here are a few ideas.
- Use unsweetened, organic cocoa powder to make hot chocolate or brownies. Sweeten with raw honey or coconut sugar.
- Make your own chocolate ice cream with organic cocoa powder.
- Bake chocolate chip cookies using organic dark chocolate chips.
- Eat organic dark chocolate bars. They are vegan and good for you!
So chocolate lovers rejoice! You CAN eat chocolate – just make sure that it is dark chocolate.