I hear a lot of clients in Auburn, WA and all over the United States sadly, but with pride, tell me about that huge box of dark chocolate they got on Valentine’s Day that’s still tucked unopened on the top shelf of their cupboards. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the dark chocolates have health benefits and you didn’t eat the whole box in one day, which leads us to the bad news. Those health benefits depend on the amount you eat and the type of chocolate. It should be dark, not milk chocolate and have 70% or more cacao, which means less sugar and you can only eat it in smaller amounts, one ounce a day.
Dark chocolate has less or no milk added and far less sugar.
Chocolate has polyphenols, which are antioxidants. Milk interferes with the absorption of polyphenols, so the less milk you have in it, the better it is for you. Quality dark chocolate actually has more antioxidants than acai or blueberries, which are considered superfoods. Sugar content is also important. The less sugar and more cacao the better. Dark chocolate also has a better healthy fat profile. A high quality dark chocolate bar with about 70 to 85% cacao, has a high amount of iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, plus fiber, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and potassium.
The flavonoids and antioxidants can help protect you from cancer.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate can be anti-inflammatory and also potent cancer fighters. They stop the activity of free radicals, particularly those that can affect the colon. Animal studies show that consuming dark chocolate may help reduce cancer of the colon. The anti-inflammatory properties and potential to reduce oxidative stress are just part of their benefits. They also help block cancer cell growth.
You’ll get heart healthy benefits from dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate can help increase nitric oxide, which can cause arteries to relax and lowers the resistance to blood flow. That means lower blood pressure. It may improve your cholesterol profile, reduce inflammation that causes heart disease and aid in preventing clotting. While it reduces blood pressure, it also increases blood flow throughout the body, including both the brain and heart. One large 11 year study of 20,000 people showed the higher dark chocolate intake, the lower cardiovascular disease.
- Regardless of benefits, dark chocolate is still high in calories, so limiting the amount you eat is important. Exercise and weight loss is the best way to lower blood pressure and obesity is a leading cause of death.
- If you have insulin resistance and need a sugar fix, dark chocolate with 70% cacao or more is the best way to get it. If you eat no more than an ounce a day, it can help improve insulin sensitivity.
- Dark chocolate may lower the risk for Parkinson’s, dementia and Alzheimer’s. It may improve blood flow to the brain. Studies on foods with flavanol, like dark chocolate, showed it improved brain function and cognitive performance.
- The flavanols in dark chocolate can improve your skin and help protect it from sun damage. It boosts hydration and improves blood flow to the skin. It also may reduce the roughness of skin.
For more information, contact us today at Targeted Nutrition Technologies