With all the sugar and milk that’s in chocolate, along with the delicious, mouth-watering taste that comes with it, we don’t often think of it as much more than candy.
What we do associate as healthy are fruits high in antioxidants, such as cranberries and blueberries. But it’s this high antioxidant level that puts cocoa right up there with the rest of the healthy fruits.
It all comes down to flavonoids, and dark chocolate has a lot of them. According to a study by Chemistry Central Journal, “the antioxidant capacity of cocoa powder was significantly greater than blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate powder.”
Let’s face it – a couple Ghirardelli Chocolate squares are likely a preferred snack over a bowl of fruit for most. Luckily, research has been coming out for several years now on possible benefits of this smooth, bittersweet confection.
Benefits include lowering cardiovascular issues and helping mediate diabetes problems. In a study presented in Journal of the American Heart Association, it is suggested that polyphenols that are present in cocoa might reduce oxidative stress. Participants in the study also experienced higher levels of nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow, when they ate dark chocolate.
Next time you’re stressed, keep calm and reach for a small bar of dark chocolate. With better blood flow and reduced blood pressure, studies have shown a significant reduction in stress among subjects and a sharper focus during cognitive tests.
This increased blood flow has also shown to help with a better tolerance to the sun’s UV rays, according to several studies. According to research by Pub Med, flavonoids help increase skin density and skin hydration, which cause UV damage to decrease by 15 percent after 6 weeks.
And who needs to splurge or have a skip day in their diet plan when you’re eating chocolate everyday?
However, caution should still be used when eating this tantalizing treat.
First, studies show that the benefits of cocoa can often get processed out when transformed into the candy bars we know and love. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most chocolates are highly processed and even some dark chocolates may not be in your best interest.
Look for dark chocolates with 70 percent or more cocoa levels that haven’t gone through Dutch processing, a treatment to neutralize its natural acidity.
Second, look out for those caramel-filled, salt-covered squares of heaven. Those extra ingredients may add flavor to the more bitter dark chocolates but it also adds calories.
Remember that when adding a couple squares of chocolate to your new health kick that you calculate those calories in. Just keep it in moderation and watch the benefits role in.