If you are a chocolate lover like I am, you’re probably looking for any excuse at all to delve into your greatest guilty pleasure. Yet, there is actually scientific evidence that shows we don’t have to feel so guilty… not when it’s dark chocolate. I had heard for some time of the benefits of eating dark chocolate, but I had no idea that they were as beneficial as they are. I searched over a few websites like Fitday, WebMD, and Huffington Post to dig up lots of fascinating facts that make me feel great about eating every bite. Here’s the skinny:
Cocoa solids have compounds called flavonoids that are healthy for you because they are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit other molecules from gaining oxygen or losing electrons (called oxidation). Oxidation is closely associated with free radical damage, so antioxidants are like the hero that bursts through the door and “takes out” the bad guys. Particularly the fight against aging and cancer are the ones most known and appreciated by those seeking out antioxidants. (Thanks Wikipedia.)
Looking for foods that are low on the glycemic index? You have found one! Dark chocolate will not spike your blood sugar and can even help protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids are useful in insulin resistance because they are able to help your cells function normally and use your body’s insulin in the correct way.
As if that wasn’t enough, it provides your brain with improved cognitive function and reduction in the risk of a stroke. You know that feeling when you fall in love? That’s a chemical that’s created in our brains called phenylethylamine (PEA). Guess what… dark chocolate contains that chemical. Seriously! Have you ever bitten into a piece and felt your mood literally change to better and happier? That’s why. You know what else that feeling does? Reduce stress. Stress is the other thing besides oxidation and free radicals that are thought the be heavily associated with wrinkling skin. Your guilty pleasure is actually helping you look younger! I want to be like that chef on television who screams “bam” after everything. This information is making me so happy! That’s not even all!
Cocoa solids also contain a chemical compound called theobromine which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. So if you practice proper dental hygiene, you don’t have to worry about it wrecking your teeth like many other sweets. In addition to hardening tooth enamel, theobromine is known for it’s ability to help suppress coughs. So when that seasonal cold comes around, you know where to turn for additional help after you’ve already taken your cough syrup. Need better nutrition? You’ll find high concentrations of some very important vitamins and minerals in cocoa solids as well, like potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc and iron. Those happen to be some very important vitamins and minerals for hair growth, so if you’re lacking a few locks on top… eating your favorite guilty pleasure may help out.
When you were a child did you sing that song, “Butterbeans, butterbeans, good for your heart?”
Well, replace butterbeans with dark chocolate and you won’t have to sing the flatulent ending to that song. Instead you can say “The more you eat it, you’ll be so smart!” You’ll get improved blood flow and help in preventing hardened arteries and blood clots. This is like the super-food that’s been in hiding!
So, how much should you eat? I know, I know after reading all of that you’ll want to eat gobs of it every day; but, we have to remember that even with all the health benefits, you can get too much of a good thing. The recommendation is a “small amount” three times a week. I’d prefer a small amount at least every day, wouldn’t you? Here’s the thing I have learned about dark chocolate from my position as a Lindt RSVP advisor… when it’s quality premium product, you only need a little bit to be satisfied. I’ll still eat it every day rather than only three times a week, but I don’t eat a lot every day. I don’t need to! A little goes a long way.
It is recommended that you choose a product that is at least eighty percent cocoa solids. The higher the percentage, the more of all the benefits you just read about will be present. Still, a little benefit is better than no benefit so find the highest percentage that you like best and go with it.
I find it hard to believe that anyone would “waste” good chocolate by not actually eating it, but there are a few beauty tips that say it can do some very cool things. Since we know now the benefits of cocoa solids on skin, you could make do it yourself body scrub with brown sugar, olive oil, cocoa powder and vanilla. That would smell incredible. Your spouse would most likely “dig it” very much! Worried about UV damage? You could use it as a sunscreen, but I can’t imagine who would! Maybe really rich people? For shinier strands of hair you could make a hair mask with it adding honey and yogurt and basking in it for about an hour. Some things just seem like they would be too difficult to get out once they are in to me, so I don’t think I’ll be trying that one.
From a healthy heart to beautiful hair, we’ve gone over many wonderful reasons to delve into dark chocolate. I hope you have learned some new things as I have. Whether you eat it in a candy bar or drink it hot in a cup… go forth to eat, drink, and be merry. I know I will!