Welcome to the dark side of chocolate! It’s National Dark Chocolate Day today! Is dark chocolate something you like or are you more of a milk chocolate fan? I enjoy both, but I have to be in a “mood” for either one! I have learned, however, that there are benefits to enjoying dark chocolate. Dark chocolate meaning “a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa” (Source: HealthLine.com). Keep in mind, as I share the information of dark chocolate, while it is beneficial to your health, I (and the experts) are not telling you to eat dark chocolate in high quantities – after all, 100 grams of chocolate would be 3.5 ounces. While there may be many nutrients and benefits to dark chocolate, there are also 600 or so calories and don’t forget, there is sugar in most brands. Consuming 600 calories of chocolate on a regular basis is not good for anyone (Source: HealthLine.com)!
In a previous time in my life, I enjoyed working for a healthcare system in my area and I was part of a healthy heart program for women. I would assist in setting up community events that featured cardiologists and other physicians, and they too, had similar information to share about eating dark chocolate!
So let’s continue. There is a powerhouse of nutrients in dark chocolate:
- 11 grams of fiber
- Packed with: potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium
- Check out these RDA’s (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for the following:
- 67% Iron
- 58% Magnesium
- 89% Copper
- 98% Manganese
Let’s talk about antioxidants. There are a lot of organic compounds in dark chocolate that are “biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include: polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others (Source: HealthLine.com).” So what does this actually mean? What are antioxidants?
Definition from MedlinePlus:
Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements.
Eating foods that are high in antioxidants have been known to help you stay healthy and also may lower the risk of certain diseases.
Consuming dark chocolate may also help lower your blood pressure and also help reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate increased HDL (good cholesterol) and lower total LDL (bad cholesterol) in men that had elevated cholesterol levels (Source: HealthLine.com).
It also appears that chomping on some of the dark chocolate can help improve blood flow through the body, so much so, that researchers are looking into how dark chocolate can improve brain function. Cocoa contains caffeine and theobromine, known stimulants, which may be why cocoa can improve brain function for short-term periods (Source: HealthLine.com).
So there you have it. Go enjoy SOME, not LOTS, of dark chocolate! Do you have a favorite? If so, share with us! Keep checking out the blog all through February, I’ll be sharing more heart healthy info, recipes and products!