The Healing Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is everywhere this time of year. There are several benefits to adding chocolate to your wellness routine, so here at GF Mom Certified we definitely suggest you indulge a little in the season. Valentine’s Day is a great time to test out your cooking skills and make some chocolatey treats. Chocolate cookies and dipped fruits, or maybe something savory like an allergen-sensitive Chicken Mole! There are many uses for chocolate in the kitchen. Maximize your families health benefits by choosing dark and raw (cacao) chocolate varieties. Here are 8 science-backed benefits to adding dark chocolate to your wellness routine:
- Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals
One of the best benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to fight free radicals. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols. Cocoa, in particular, has actually been shown to have a high content of polyphenols and flavonoids that is even greater than wine and tea. Therefore, the higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of your next chocolate bar, the more beneficial antioxidants you’ll consume.
- Potential Cancer Prevention
Research shows that the flavonoids and antioxidants found in chocolate may be especially beneficial against colon cancer. For instance, one animal model found dark chocolate was able to effectively reduce the growth and spread of colon cancer cells in rats.
- Improved Heart Health
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in chocolate. According to Cleveland Clinic, research has shown that flavonols have a very positive effect on heart health by reducing blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain.
- Good for Overall Cholesterol Profile
The cocoa butter found in chocolate is rich in healthy fats and polyphenols, which are beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants in the body. A 2009 study published in Southern Medical Journal looked at the effects of chocolate on 28 healthy subjects and found that just one week of dark chocolate consumption improved lipid profiles, decreased platelet reactivity and reduced inflammation.
- Better Cognitive Function
Some research suggests that flavonol-rich dark chocolate could increase blood flow to the brain, which could potentially aid in the treatment of cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s.
- Improves Blood Pressure
Several studies show that adding chocolate to your diet can reduce blood pressure levels, which could help protect against conditions like heart disease and stroke. For example, in one 2015 study, consuming 25 grams of dark chocolate was effective at lowering blood pressure in those with type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
- Antioxidant-Rich Superfood
In a study published in Chemistry Central Journal, the total flavanol and polyphenol content as well as antioxidant activity content of chocolate and cocoa powder were compared to super fruits like acai, cranberry, blueberry and pomegranate. It was also revealed that the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate was higher than all of the superfruit juices, except pomegranate.
- Potential Vision Booster
Although more research is needed, one June 2018 human clinical trial observed that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity of 30 participants improved after consuming dark chocolate versus milk chocolate, meaning that it could potentially help boost vision.
Are you looking for safe Valentine’s Day chocolate treats and festive giveaways? Make sure to check out my 2021 GF Mom Certified Valentine’s Day Must Have’s Amazon list here!
Photo credit to Syd Trox