5 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
People around the world have enjoyed chocolate for thousands of years. Today, you can savor the delicious treat in countless ways. From ice cream to cake to popcorn to martinis, chocolate earned its place as an international favorite due to its undeniably delicious taste and practically infinite applications.
Is dark chocolate good for you? Yes! You'll be glad to know it comes with multiple health benefits, along with tasting divine. You now have more reasons than ever to continue consuming your favorite treat.
While milk and white chocolate may be delicious, they don't have the same dark chocolate benefits, so people who love higher percentages of cacao, rejoice! Is there a healthy chocolate? It's got to be dark. A small indulgence of dark chocolate could benefit more than just your taste buds.
What Is Dark Chocolate?
While many love the savory notes of dark chocolate and the sweet taste of milk chocolate, not everyone knows where it comes from.
Many steps need to occur before the chocolate you love hits the shelves. You probably wouldn't even recognize chocolate if you saw it in its plant form, before it undergoes processing.
The process starts with a cacao pod, which grows to the size of a human hand. Workers remove the seeds from the pod to ferment, dry and eventually roast them into the cocoa beans. They separate the shells from the meat — also known as cocoa nibs. They then grind the nibs into a liquid to make chocolate liquor and separate the fatty portion — also known as cocoa butter. They refine the liquor, which eventually creates the cocoa solids and chocolate with which we are familiar. What remains from the cocoa beans gets ground into cocoa powder for drinks and baked goods.
It's a lengthy, work-intensive process, but those who love chocolate will affirm that it's all worth it.
So now that you've got the raw material for chocolate, what is the difference between dark and milk chocolate?
It all comes down to the amount of cocoa solids in the chocolate. Dark chocolate gets 50 to 90% of its substance from cocoa solids, and the remaining percentage comes from cocoa butter and sugar. On the other hand, milk chocolate only gets 10 to 50% of its makeup from cocoa solids, and what remains gets filled with cocoa butter, milk and sugar.
Low-quality chocolates add butterfat, vegetable oils and artificial flavors and colors to save money. These ingredients take away the consumer's experience of the pure, natural taste of high-quality cacao.
While this fact may disappoint white chocolate lovers, white chocolate contains no cacao at all — which means it isn't genuine chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
Pure cacao offers an abundance of antioxidants — even more than red wine or green tea! But the healthy components of dark chocolate don't stop there.
At Bedford Candies, we're not doctors, and our advice should never replace a medical professional's recommendations. However, as fellow dark chocolate lovers, we are here to share some of the health advantages various researchers have discovered.
1. Boosts Your Mood
Dark chocolate not only causes happiness for your taste buds, but also in your brain.
Joy DuBost, Ph.D., RD, a spokesperson on nutrition and owner of a nutrition consulting business, points to research showing dark chocolate stimulating neural activity in parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward. In turn, this process decreases your body's stress levels, resulting in an elevated mood.
A study done by the Center for Human Pharmacology determined the presence of compounds like tryptophan, phenylethylamine and theobromine.
- Tryptophan boosts the brain's production of serotonin.
- Phenylethylamine is a natural antidepressant that replicates the same feelings as falling in love — elevated heart rate, alertness and motivation.
- Theobromine relaxes and relieves stress.
2. Provides Antioxidants
Antioxidants play a pivotal role in the body because they disarm free radicals. Fortunately, dark chocolate is full of these antioxidants.
Free radicals can negatively impact the body because they do not have the right amount of electrons, making them unstable. They will try to steal electrons from other atoms with complete electron shells. This process could lead to diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer's.
Antioxidants give the free radicals an atom to safely take electrons from, without damaging the body.
Unprocessed cocoa beans have some of the highest scores in the Oxygen Radical Absorbency test. Dark chocolate has a bunch of organic compounds like polyphenols, flavanols and catechins that all function in the same manner as antioxidants would. In one study, dark chocolate showed more antioxidant activity than any other fruit used in the test.
3. Could Reduce Risk of Heart Disease or Stroke
Research suggests that increased chocolate intake could help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study quantified the benefits, saying that those who ate dark chocolate more than five times in a week reduced their heart disease risk by as much as 57%.
Scientists attribute these health benefits to the high levels of flavonoids found in dark chocolate. The presence of these chemicals aids in the production of nitric oxide. This chemical causes blood vessels to relax, lowering the body's blood pressure.
4. Good for Your Skin
Vitamins like copper, iron and magnesium offer benefits to promote healthier skin — you can find each of these in dark chocolate.
Some of the beneficial vitamins and minerals found in dark chocolate include the following.
- Manganese: Supports collagen production to keep skin young and healthy
- Calcium: Repairs and renews skin cells
- Antioxidants: Protects against UV radiation
These components of dark chocolate all work together to promote beautiful, healthy, youthful skin.
5. Could Improve Your Brain's Function
Multiple studies suggest different cognitive benefits to the consumption of dark chocolate.
When you consume dark chocolate, you could improve your brain's function in the following ways.
- Neuroplasticity: The flavanols in dark chocolate promote increased neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to reorganize itself.
- Cognitive performance and mood: In a series of studies, five suggested that the intake of dark chocolate improved the subjects' mood. Three studies suggested the presence of cognitive enhancement in those who partake in dark chocolate.
- Ability to fight neurodegenerative conditions: Diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's result from the degeneration of the brain, and eating dark chocolate could improve your brain function to fight against the onset of these illnesses.
Some studies relied on self-reported accounts of chocolate consumption, which introduces a possible bias into the results. However, the consensus supports the possibility of various types of improved brain function when participants ate dark chocolate.
Order Dark Chocolate From Bedford Candies Today!
When you order dark chocolate delights from Bedford Candies, you can rest assured knowing we offer only the highest-quality chocolate. Unlike the chocolates you find in the grocery store aisles, our chocolate doesn't have excessive oils, sugar and milk. We make chocolate the way we know our customers will enjoy it. At the same time, you can enjoy the health benefits of eating dark chocolate.
When you take a bite out of any of our dark chocolate candies, we know you'll understand. Taste the difference when you order a dark chocolate gift box or any of our other delicious treats today.