As many of you know, I am known to be a bit of a Chocoholic but did you know that high-cacao dark chocolate offers a myriad of health benefits?
Dark chocolate is the perfect combination of flavour, flavonoids, and fat. It comes loaded with polyphenols, and cocoa butter is a great source of saturated and monounsaturated fat. On top of that, it tastes a-mazing! What’s not to love? ❤️
The next time you feel a craving coming on, remember these 5 incredible health benefits of dark chocolate and why you should consider adding it to your diet on a semi-regular basis.
1. Dark chocolate contains healthy fats.
Cocoa butter is mostly monounsaturated and saturated fat, with very little polyunsaturated fat. Most of that saturated fat is stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on LDL (bad cholesterol).
2. Dark chocolate contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols.
When it comes to polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, cacao rules! Cacao’s polyphenols are also quite potent and potentially healthful.
3. Dark chocolate and blood pressure
4. Dark chocolate and cardiovascular disease
Researchers discovered that drinking cocoa powder mixed with hot water or milk lowered oxidized LDL and ApoB counts while increasing HDL (1/8 to 1/4 cup cocoa powder per day total).
5. Dark chocolate and insulin resistance
Studies have also shown that dark chocolate improved beta cell function, lowered blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved endothelial function in hypertensive glucose-intolerant individuals, while white chocolate did none of those things.
How to choose the healthiest dark chocolate
The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the more heart-healthy flavonoids the chocolate contains.
To choose the healthiest dark chocolate, check the label: It should say the chocolate contains 60 to 70 percent cacao. These chocolates are often called bittersweet or extra bittersweet; they contain a small amount of sugar for flavor and a healthy amount of flavonoids.
Unsweetened chocolate contains 100 percent cacao.
Bittersweet chocolate contains 35 to 99 percent cacao; must contain at least 35 percent unsweetened chocolate and less than 12 percent milk solids; the broadest category, it can include products called bittersweet, semisweet, dark, extra dark or extra bittersweet.
“Why You Should Eat and Drink High-Cacao Dark Chocolate” Mark Sisson, Retrieved 11 Feb 2022 <https://marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-and-drink-high-cacao-dark-chocolate/>.
“Harvard Study: Dark Chocolate Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure” Candy Sagon, AARP Bulletin, Retrieved 11 February 2022 <https://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.html>.
Image: “3 Healthy Ways to Eat More Chocolate” by SujaJuice.
Marsha Fenwick, C.N.P. R.R.T.
Marsha is not your typical nutritionist. She began her career 20 years ago as a Registered Respiratory Therapist. Later, she earned her certifications as a Registered Nutritional Consultant Practitioner, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, and Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner. Marsha is also a Certified Cancer Coach. Her clinical practice specializes in: sustainable healthy weight loss, digestive health, women's hormones, diabetes, heart health, and cancer prevention and recovery. For more information and to book a FREE 15 minute consultation go to www.marshafenwicknutrition.com