For many of us in the United States, we hear the word “chocolate” and think about candy bars like Butterfinger, Snickers, or Kit Kat. The type of chocolate used for these candy bars is milk chocolate, though, which is much different than dark chocolate. While not as sweet as milk chocolate due to the lack of sugar, dark chocolate is very tasty and also leaps and bounds healthier than milk chocolate.
Not everyone is the biggest fan of dark chocolate, but they should be, because there are a ton of health benefits that come with eating it. Because of our fascination with milk chocolate, we might not think of “healthy” when hearing chocolate, but if you make the switch to dark chocolate, here are some of the amazing benefits that it comes with.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Milk chocolate is loaded with saturated fat to make it sweeter, but dark chocolate is incredibly low in saturated fat. A vast majority of fat within dark chocolate is unsaturated, and the right amount of unsaturated fat is good for your heart. Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can lower your risk of heart disease thanks to lowering cholesterol and bad fats.
Doctors do say that you should keep it to a small amount, though, as dark chocolate is still high in calories. Another major study shows that eating two (with a maximum of six) ounces per week reduces the chances of an irregular heartbeat by 15 to 20 percent while reducing the chances of a stroke tremendously. Maintaining that amount of dark chocolate per week also lowers LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent on average over the course of two weeks.
More Nutritious Than You Think
There aren’t many people that naturally consider chocolate to be filled with nutrients, but the dark version is very much packed. Dark chocolate contains a healthy amount of dietary fiber, which can help your body’s digestive system improve. There are also vitamins that include vitamin K, vitamin B12, and niacin just to name a few.
Manganese and iron are the most prevalent nutrients to be found in dark chocolate, making up nearly your daily recommended intake. Other significant minerals include zinc, copper, potassium, and phosphorous. For those that are trying to build muscle, you can also count on plenty of protein to be found.
Improved Insulin Resistance
Without much of the sugar that you find in milk chocolate, there is still some to be found in dark chocolate. However, you can help control your body’s blood sugar with a small daily amount of dark chocolate. Your body will be able to control your insulin more efficiently by fighting off free radicals via flavonoids.
Chocolate bars tend to be very high on the glycemic index, but that’s not the case for dark chocolate. You have probably felt a blood sugar spike after eating milk chocolate, but that won’t be the case with the dark version. It has even been found to help control diabetes, which is welcome news for diabetics that crave chocolate. In fact, taking a daily amount of dark chocolate can reduce insulin resistance in just over a week.
Skin and Teeth Boost
Eating chocolate naturally makes you feel better as it’s comfort food (and dark chocolate helps to relax by increasing blood flow and reducing stress hormones), but it can also make you look better, too. Milk chocolate can make you gain weight or have your skin break out, but dark chocolate helps in both of those areas.
Teeth are helped out by dark chocolate thanks to its theobromine content. Not only does theobromine strengthen tooth enamel, but it can help you get over a cough. Thanks to the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, you can also kill some of the bacteria found in your mouth that lead to disease.
Your skin also sees the benefits of dark chocolate, especially if you spend a lot of time out in the sun. With better hydration thanks to your increased blood flow, your body will have a better resistance to UV rays. One study showed that it took twice as long to become sunburned for patients that ate dark chocolate for three months compared to those that ate regular chocolate. This doesn’t mean that you should lie on the beach all day eating dark chocolate, but it’s a good benefit to keep in your pocket.
There are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help prevent a wide range of diseases from cancer while lowering your blood pressure and improving your mental health. Dark chocolate is among the foods that are highest in antioxidants thanks to the high level of flavanols.
These compounds increase your blood flow and can do so within just a couple of hours after being ingested. The biggest reason for this is that dark chocolate is made up mainly of cocoa, one of the world’s best sources of flavonols.