Wouldn’t it be fantastic if one of the most popular sweet treats was also good for us, and it’s a topic that is often debated online. Unfortunately it’s not as simple to say that dark chocolate benefits your health, because there are a lot of different variables to consider. Our personal trainers have delved into the research so you don’t have to, now lets take a look at some of the nutritional facts, as well as some of the “hype” that surrounds dark chocolate and health benefits.
Is dark chocolate bad for you?
It’s safe to say that dark chocolate shouldn’t be labelled as a ‘health food’. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without some potential benefits when enjoyed in moderation. Generally speaking, dark chocolate is made from cocoa powder, cocoa butter and more often than not, sugar. This depends, of course, of the variety that you choose.
The one thing to look at in particular here however is the cocoa. This is the key ingredient in question when looking at dark chocolate and its health benefits. Cocoa contains an antioxidant known as oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), which is often referred to as flavanols. According to research, flavanols may help promote blood flow to the brain, reduce stress hormones and even relaxing the body’s blood vessels, resulting in lowered blood pressure. Interesting!
Phenethylamine is also contained in dark chocolate which is a compound known to help the release of endorphins, which can help lift your mood. The antioxidants in dark chocolate may also be beneficial for your skin because they help to fight damage caused by free radicals. As we already noted, flavanols can help promote blood flow which is also great for nourishing your skin’s cells. Dark chocolate also contains small amounts of magnesium, which can assist with the regulation of hormones.
Again, it’s difficult to state that dark chocolate is good for your health, because the amount of cocoa differs from product to product and cocoa bean varieties. Your best bet is to seek out 70%+ dark chocolate in order to benefit from the most flavanols. They may be more bitter and not as sweet as white or milk chocolate, but the benefits will certainly be increased.
As with most things, whilst there are benefits to eating dark chocolate, it should be enjoyed in moderation. The actual amount depends on your overall diet and activity levels, but even just a few squares should satisfy your sweet tooth. Try not to go too overboard, as more often than not your dark chocolate will contain sugar. If you are looking for other sources of antioxidants, a cup of herbal tea will also go down a treat!