Dark Chocolate Benefits You Should Know About
I’m sure most of us have seen articles online talking about the benefits of dark chocolate. It would be great to think one of the most popular sweet treats is actually good for us — however, it’s not quite as simple as that.
To help you separate some of the facts from the hype, I’m going to look into some of the dark chocolate benefits you should know more about!
Is dark chocolate bad for you?
You might have read that I think labelling foods good or bad isn’t a helpful practice. With that in mind, I understand that a lot of Sweat Community members want to make sure they are staying on track with their healthy eating habits.
While I’m sure we all know that chocolate isn’t a health food, there are some potential benefits that may come from enjoying dark chocolate in moderation.
How healthy is dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa powder, cocoa butter and, often, sugar. There can be differences depending on the variety you choose.
The cocoa is the key ingredient when we’re looking at potential health benefits of dark chocolate. Cocoa is rich in an antioxidant known as oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), also referred to as flavanols. The research around flavanols indicates they may help in promoting blood flow to the brain, reducing stress hormones and relaxing the body’s blood vessels, which can lead to lowered blood pressure.
Dark chocolate also contains phenethylamine which is a compound that helps trigger the release of endorphins, which may help improve your mood!
It’s difficult to say whether dark chocolate is healthy or not because the amount of cocoa used varies so much between brands and cocoa bean varieties. If you can, look for 70% dark chocolate, or higher, to get the most flavanols. While these varieties may not taste as sweet as milk or white chocolate, they outweigh them in benefits.
Dark chocolate benefits for skin
It wasn’t that long ago people were told not to eat chocolate to avoid a breakout. Now, we understand that our diet is just one factor that can affect our skin’s appearance.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate may be beneficial for your skin because they help to fight damage caused by free radicals. As mentioned earlier, flavanols can also help to promote blood flow, which can help to nourish your skin’s cells.
Dark chocolate also contains small amounts of magnesium, which can assist with the regulation of hormones. As we know, hormones can have a huge impact on our skin.
When it comes to some of the other potential benefits of dark chocolate — such as protecting the skin from UV rays — the research isn’t as conclusive.
How much dark chocolate a day can you eat?
As I’ve mentioned, while dark chocolate may have some health benefits, it is something that should be eaten in moderation. Most forms of dark chocolate also contain sugar, so keep this in mind!
A recent study by the University of Copenhagen suggests dark chocolate can provide a feeling of satiety — so even a few squares may help satisfy a chocolate craving.
Now I’m sure you are wondering ‘how much dark chocolate can I eat in a day?’. It’s not a simple answer because we’re all different, with different diets and activity levels. If you are following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, having a few small squares of high-quality dark chocolate each day can be okay! Don’t feel as though you have to cut it out altogether but try not to go overboard either.
If you are looking for other ways to get your dose of antioxidants, try having a cup of herbal tea!
Is dark chocolate good for you?
Don’t stress — I’m not about to tell you to give up chocolate! Dark chocolate can satisfy a sweet tooth and if there are benefits for your skin, that’s even better. So long as you are mindful of how much chocolate you are eating, it is perfectly okay to snack on.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.