Go Ahead, Eat the Chocolate: 8 Ways Dark Chocolate Makes Your Body Stronger
The holiday of love is coming up, and for some of us, that means temptation is hitting hard thanks to the unending types of chocolate lining the shelves of stores everywhere. While it’s true that chocolate isn’t as good for you as, say, fruit or veggies, that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself. Just practice moderation (we know, easier said than done) and make sure you’re going for the healthiest option: dark chocolate.
Chocolate is made from ground and fermented cocoa beans from the Theobroma cacao tree, and those beans are chock full of phytonutrients called flavanols that are awesome for the body—and out of all the chocolate varieties out there, dark chocolate has the highest percentage of cocoa beans. (Pro tip: Don’t just grab a dark chocolate bar and call it good. Some commercial “chocolates” have no cocoa in them at all, so make sure you read the label before purchasing.)
Still feeling a bit skeptical? Take a look at these eight ways that the cocoa in dark chocolate makes your body stronger:
1. Fights free radicals. That amazing phytonutrient flavanol acts like an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants “block” free radicals, which can damage healthy cells and may be a cause of cancer.
2. Lowers blood pressure. Medical studies suggest the consumption of dark chocolate can actually decrease high blood pressure, while a small amount (1 oz.) of dark chocolate with regularity can be beneficial in maintaining normal blood pressure levels—in addition to following a healthy, low-sodium diet and exercise routine, of course.
3. Lowers risk of developing diabetes. It sounds crazy, but it’s true—high-quality, low-sugar dark chocolate really can help prevent type-2 diabetes.
4. Lowers risk of irregular heartbeat. A study led by Harvard researchers found that people who eat a small amount of dark chocolate regularly are less at risk for atrial fibrillation.
5. Lowers risk of obesity. Milk and white chocolate generally have more fat because cream is a primary ingredient, making dark chocolate your friend if you’re watching your weight. Even more than that, though, studies have shown that the antioxidants in dark chocolate actively fight weight gain.
6. Acts as a cough suppressant. A study completed by the FASEB Journal found that one of dark chocolate’s ingredients, theobromine, was more successful at suppressing coughs than codeine.
7. Improves cognitive function. Yes, you read that right—dark chocolate really can make you smarter! Working memory, abstract reasoning, math skills, and visual-spatial memory and organization all get a boost from regular chocolate consumption.
8. Vitamins galore. Magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc are just a handful of the awesome nutrients found in dark chocolate.
So go ahead—indulge a little for Valentine’s Day. Just make sure it’s the good stuff!