7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate. One of the most popular vices in the world. Did you know that some forms of chocolate can actually be good for you?
Over $75 billion is spent across the world each year on chocolate. The average American eats approximately 12 pounds of chocolate each year… think about that as you bust open your Easter baskets this weekend.
The good news is that some types of chocolate can have amazing health benefits! Unfortunately, highly processed, super sweetened chocolate isn’t loaded with tons of nutrients that are good for your health.
Today we are going to dive into the health benefits of dark chocolate! So grab some dark chocolate, a drink, and read on for how eating dark chocolate can be good for your health!
7 Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.”
Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Dark chocolate has a very high antioxidant content. It’s packed with flavonoids and polyphenols. The higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of your dark chocolate bar, the higher its antioxidant content.
2. Antioxidant-Rich Superfood
The Hersey Co. published a study in Chemistry Central Journal. Its findings stated that the total flavanol and polyphenol content, along with the antioxidant activity content of dark chocolate was comparable to super fruits like acai, cranbery, pomegranate, and blueberry.
In fact, dark chocolate’s antioxidant capacity was higher than every super fruit listed above except for pomegranate. Dark chocolate also had a total polyphenol content per serving of about 1,000 mg per serving. This was higher than every fruit juice mentioned above except for pomegranate juice!
3. Blood Pressure and Sugar Aid
A study published in 2015 looked at type 2 diabetics consumption of white chocolate versus dark chocolate. The participants who ate dark chocolate over the course of the 8 week study had lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar! Study participants consumed less than one ounce per day of dark chocolate, so don’t go overboard if you’re diabetic.
4. Potentially Prevents Cancer
According to the American Cancer Institute:
“Given chocolate’s rich supply of flavonoids, researchers have also investigated whether it may play a role in cancer prevention. The studies in cancer prevention are still emerging. A recent review of studies on the cancer protective properties of cocoa concluded that the evidence is limited but suggestive.”
5. Improved Heart Health
Flavanols are found in dark chocolate. The Cleveland Clinic states that flavanols help lower blood pressure. They also improve blood flow to the heart and brain. They also help reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke!
A study published in 2015 also found that dark chocolate can improve heart health. It studied the health of more than 20,000 people for 11 years. This study found that higher dark chocolate intake was associated with a lower risk of “cardiovascular events.”
6. Improved Cognitive Function
In 2009, the Journal of Nutrition published a study. It stated that flavonoid-rich dark chocolate helped improve cognitive ability, especially among the elderly.
The study found that when consuming food and drink rich in flavanoids, participants between the ages of 70-74 had better performance across several cognitive abilities.
7. Good for Cholesterol
Dark chocolate contains cocoa butter. This cocoa butter contains equal amounts of oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids.
A study published in 2009 by the Southern Medical Journal looked at 28 participants. It found that with just one week of eating dark chocolate, they had improved lipid profiles and decreased platelet reactivity.
So what are some delicious ways to work dark chocolate into your diet? Here are some of our favorite recipes!
Dark Chocolate Recipes
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups with Smoked Sea Salt by Slim Palate
- 7-8 ounces high quality dark chocolate (70 percent or higher) or unsweetened baking chocolate sweetened with 5 packets of stevia
- ½ cup almond butter
- 1 packet additive free stevia or 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 2½ teaspoons arrowroot powder
- smoked sea salt for sprinkling
- Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin cups.
- In a small bowl add almond butter, honey or stevia, coconut flour and arrowroot powder and stir until well combined and place to the side.
- Chop or break the chocolate into pieces and melt it in a double boiler or place it in a bowl and microwave at 10 second intervals stirring in between each interval until melted.
- Once melted drizzle about a teaspoon or so of melted chocolate into mini muffin cups then carefully and slowly rotate the cups to line the sides with the melted chocolate but not all the way to the top.
- Once all of the mini muffin cups are filled and lined spoon in 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of almond butter mixture into each chocolate filled and lined cup. (If you used honey the mixture might be thick enough for you to be able to roll it into balls, if it is then simply roll the mixture into balls and place the balls into the mini muffin cups and slightly press down a little)
- Drizzle melted chocolate over almond butter filled molds with just enough chocolate to cover completely.
- Sprinkle smoked sea salt over each finished chocolate and place in the fridge until hard
Three-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse by Drizzle and Dip
- 265g (9.35 ounces) bittersweet 70% chocolate, chopped
- just less than 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 4 T sugar
- 2T of brandy or any other liqueur of your choice (optional)
- Melt the chocolate, sugar and water together in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pot of boiling water.
- Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and then place another, smaller bowl on top of this and keep to one side.
- When the chocolate has melted, empty this into the bowl standing on top of the ice (I simply placed the bowl I had melted the chocolate in directly onto the ice).
- Using an electric hand-held mixer, start beating the mixture until it thickens. As it cools it starts to thicken. This takes about 3 – 5 minutes, so be patient.
- Once it starts to thicken it very quickly goes very hard, so I suggest spooning it into your serving dishes while it is still fairly soft. If you find the chocolate is grainy, you can heat it over the double bowler again and repeat the process until it is the texture that you like. I added the brandy towards the end of the mixing.
- It can be served immediately.
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream by The Faux Martha
- 2 c. half and half
- 1 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
- hefty dash of sea salt
- 1/2 c. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 3/4 c. dark chocolate, chopped
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Give it a little taste to make sure you have enough salt.
- In a bowl, whisk together well the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Over medium-high heat, heat milk mixture until sugar dissolves and begins to simmer. Stir in cocoa powder and chopped chocolate until combined. Bring back to simmer.
- Slowly pour about one cup of the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs (a.k.a. cook the eggs without scrambling them). Add egg mixture to saucepan, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract.
- Pour mixture in a large bowl over a fine mesh sieve to catch any egg clumps Cover and let cool to room temperature. Place in fridge for about 3 hours. To speed up the cooling process, place bowl in an ice bath in the fridge, or place in the freezer sans ice bath until chilled.
- Once mixture is cold, make ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.