Let’s be honest, we all love a chocolate treat and we all feel guilty after eating it. If only there was a healthier option available to not only help us feel less guilty, but also provide some health benefits! But wait…
What about dark chocolate? Hmmm, is it really healthier? What do studies suggest? Well, in this article we are going to breakdown some of the nutritional and health facts as well as investigate some of the health benefits of dark chocolate to find out whether it’s really something to get excited about.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF DARK CHOCOLATE
When we look at the nutritional value of dark chocolate, we will roughly find the following per 100 grams. Keep in mind that 100 grams is a lot, and a normal bar is roughly 35-40 grams. Also, take note that this might vary depending on the percentage of cocoa used, however, on average one bar consists of roughly 70-85% cocoa.
- Quite rich in potassium, zinc and selenium
- Approx. 10-11 grams of fiber
- 67% of RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of iron
- 89% of RDA of copper
- 98% of RDA of manganese
- 58% of RDA of magnesium
COCOA CONTAINS CAFFEINE
Cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate as you know. You can get roughly 43 grams of caffeine in 100 grams of cocoa. Caffeine is a natural stimulant with tons of weight loss benefits! This doesn’t necessarily mean that dark chocolate can help you lose weight, but it does mean that it’s a better snack to nibble on late night than normal milk chocolate if you can’t help yourself.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND BRAIN FUNCTION
According to a study, blood flow to the brain can be increased after as much as 5 days of supplementing with cocoa rich in flavanols. Cocoa can also help improve overall cognitive function, especially in elder people with a mental impairment.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND BLOOD PRESSURE
According to researchers, dark chocolate is rich in flavanols which can help the lining of your arteries to produce N.O which is Nitric Oxide. N.O can help your arteries to relax and lower resistance to overall blood flow which then can help reduce blood pressure.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
Because dark chocolate has got such a positive effect on blood pressure, it might actually help to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially in older adults. One study done on 470 elderly males concluded that cocoa helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by as much as 50%!
LESS WEIGHT GAIN WITH DARK CHOCOLATE
First of all, please never try and gain weight with dark chocolate, however, one study from researchers at the university of Copenhagen concluded that you will be able to gain less weight by eating dark chocolate than eating normal milk chocolate.
Sixteen individuals were given 100 grams of either dark or milk chocolate for breakfast and then at lunch they were allowed to eat as much pizza as they wished. The researchers found that the group that consumed dark chocolate for breakfast ended up eating less pizza for lunch due to the fact that they were still satisfied from breakfast. This might be because of the fact that dark chocolate contains less sugar which means it has got a lower GI.
LESS STRESS ON THE HEART DURING EXERCISE
According to studies, athletes who consumed a portion of cocoa two hours before their training session managed to reduce the amount of stress on their hearts as well as blood vessels. The reason for this could be due to the fact that cocoa is rich in antioxidants.
DARK CHOCOLATE AND YOUR CHOLESTEROL
So if dark chocolate contains saturated fats, does that mean it’s going to elevate bad cholesterol levels? No! Actually, it might do the opposite. In one study researchers found that cocoa can help decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) in men, it also increase HDL (good cholesterol). But wait, it gets better. Dark chocolate can also help prevent and reduce insulin sensitivity.
COCOA IN DARK CHOCOLATE CAN IMPROVE MUSCLE FUNCTION
Like we don’t have enough benefits already… Scientists at the San Diego School of Medicine discovered that individuals with Type 2 Diabetes improved their mitochondrial structures after three months due to the flavanoids in dark chocolate .
Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” in our bodies where energy gets burned in order to function properly. The more effective your mitochondria function the better you will function.
ACTIVE FIT NUTRITION