Can Eating Dark Chocolate Benefit Your Health?
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Dark chocolate, though bitter in taste, is quickly emerging as a go-to treat for many because of the health benefits associated with them. With experts and studies from around the world now saying that dark chocolate consumption, in moderation, has more benefits than other chocolate types, people are now opting for dark chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa content–and even trying out infusions with coffee, orange, nuts, etc. 

But have you ever wondered what the science behind dark chocolate consumption says, and if the ingredient is actually good for health or not? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cocoa present in dark chocolate can protect nerves from injury and inflammation and also protect the skin from oxidative damage from UV radiation. But these aren’t the only benefits of having dark chocolate. 

In fact, according to recent studies and the NIH, there are plenty of benefits you can get by consuming dark chocolate in moderation. Here are some such science-backed benefits of having dark chocolate.

1. Source of Antioxidants

According to a 2011 study, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, potent antioxidants that help neutralise free radicals in the body. Free radicals contribute to oxidative stress, a factor linked to various chronic diseases. Hence, eating dark chocolate in moderation supports immune function by combating oxidative damage. It may contribute to the reduction of inflammation in the body, and it protects cells from premature ageing.

2. Mood Enhancement

You might have observed people eating dark chocolate while stressed in the office. NIH did a study on the topic “The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence” stating that chocolate contains compounds like phenylethylamine, serotonin, and endorphins, which can influence mood and contribute to well-being. Dark chocolates act as a mild natural antidepressant. It promotes relaxation and stress relief and may enhance feelings of pleasure and happiness.

3. Skin Health

A study by NIH on Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease states that the antioxidants in chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can help combat oxidative stress and protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays. The dark chocolate promotes collagen production, enhancing skin elasticity and firmness. Also, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It may improve blood flow to the skin, contributing to a healthy complexion.

4. Healthy Blood Vessels

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dark chocolate, as mentioned, is rich in flavonoids, and has been associated with various cardiovascular benefits, including maintaining healthy blood vessels. Also, it supports the production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels. The dark chocolates enhance endothelial function which is crucial for blood vessel health. It also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, the hardening of arteries.

5. Anti-Diabetic Properties

The NIH also suggests that certain components in dark chocolate have been linked to potential anti-diabetic effects, offering benefits for individuals managing diabetes. It helps to regulate insulin sensitivity, aiding glucose control and supports blood sugar management through various mechanisms. Also, dark chocolates are a source of antioxidants that may mitigate diabetes-related oxidative stress.

Excessive consumption of chocolate, especially varieties high in added sugars and fats, can contribute to higher calorie intake and negate potential health benefits. Also, individual responses to chocolate can vary, and factors such as the type of chocolate, overall diet, and individual health conditions should be considered.