Medical studies have delighted chocolate lovers in recent years, giving them another excuse to enjoy the delicious taste of dark chocolate: it’s good for you!
- In the last decade, research has shown that for some people, dark chocolate significantly lowered blood pressure.
- Several studies found that it reduced “bad cholesterol” and total cholesterol count levels in the blood.
- A California study found that cocoa appeared to reverse smoking-related damage to blood vessels. Another showed that dark chocolate decreased the risk of blood clots in smokers.
- Other studies found that it reduced the risk of ischemic strokes, a leading cause of death in the United States.
But before you break open the wrapper on a bar of chocolate, it is important to remember that like all chocolate products, dark chocolate is high in calories which need to be offset elsewhere in your daily food intake. As well, milk and white chocolate do not carry the same health benefits as dark chocolate.
Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa, which contains flavonoids – powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. According to Dr. Oz, “Flavonoids are these really powerful, vitamin-like substances that when you eat them, guess what they do? They dilate the arteries of the body… [But] you need dark chocolate with 70 percent or more pure cocoa to reap the benefits of flavonoids.” One type of flavonoid in dark chocolate is epicatechins, which is particularly effective in keeping cholesterol from collecting in arteries and increasing blood flow, thereby preventing atherosclerosis.
Dark chocolate also contains cocoa phenols, which are powerful antioxidants known to fight free radicals that wreak havoc in the body. The darker the chocolate bar, the more phenols it has – up to 21 times more than found in green tea. While phenols occur in plants, the ones found in dark chocolate are especially healthy.
How Much Should I Eat to Get the Health Benefits?
Research looking at the health properties of dark chocolate have typically found that small amounts of dark chocolate were sufficient enough to produce health benefits. For example, in one study exploring dark chocolate’s ability to lower blood pressure, participants ate only 30 calories of dark chocolate every day.
On the other hand, another study had participants eating a 1.6 ounce bar of dark chocolate every day (which contains 220 calories) to get health benefits. As a rule of thumb, most health professionals will advise to consume between .25- to 1.5-ounces per day, making sure to balance the calories by cutting out other less healthy foods.
Looking for a Guilt-Free Dark Chocolate Treat?
Have you tried IsaDelights? These tasty little bite-sized chocolate treats are premium quality, low-calorie, low-sugar, antioxidant-packed treats. IsaDelight Plus also contains the added benefit of green tea, which is one of nature’s true superfoods.