Chocolate has been perceived as something unhealthy, especially during our childhood years. Our parents and guardians would often tell us that if we eat too much chocolate, we’ll get diabetes or cavities. Yikes!
However, hard evidence suggests that chocolates are not villains to our bodies. Although there are some unnecessary chocolates to eat, dark chocolates are a great source of many nutrients and health benefits. Stay tuned to find out more!
What Makes Dark Chocolate Healthy?
Dark chocolate is made from cacao seeds/cocoa tree. With this alone, we can say that dark chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants like tea and coffee.
Taken in moderation, dark chocolate can give you a lot more benefits than just additional antioxidants.
Antioxidants fight off your body from free radicals. This is because dark chocolate has antioxidant components such as flavonoids, catechins, and polyphenols. But aside from this, antioxidants also reduce the signs of aging, as is most commonly advertised.
Here are some more key benefits you can get from eating dark chocolate:
#1 It may help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
There are a lot of myths about chocolates but even more health issues surrounding chocolate in general.
This benefit sounds very far-fetched if you think about it, but milk chocolate is way different from dark chocolate. By dark chocolate, we mean those bars that are 70 to 85% pure. This is because of the flavanols in dark chocolate.
Flavanols help strengthen and stimulate the lining of your arteries. This, in turn, helps produce more Nitric Oxide or NO. With more NO’s, your arteries relax and lower blood flow resistance.
However, just because this is so, doesn’t mean you should consume bars and bars of dark chocolate. Remember, the benefits are there, small but significant. At the same time, it also still needs to be paired up with proper diet and exercise.
#2 Dark chocolate might be good for your skin.
We’ve already established how dark chocolate helps fight off cholesterol, free radicals, and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it also helps stimulate blood flow. On top of that, it also helps improve the density of your skin cells and increase hydration.
This is what makes dark chocolate good for your skin. So if you want to have that naturally hydrated and sun-protected skin, eating dark chocolate in moderation might help.
After all, just as we mentioned earlier, the antioxidants in dark chocolate help fight signs of aging such as wrinkles, blemishes and the like.
#3 Dark Chocolate helps stimulate your brain.
Ever heard of tips like eating a bar of chocolate before or while taking an exam? While this might seem a bit funny, there’s a lot of truth to it. Dark chocolate improves the blood flow not only in your arteries (or heart) but also in your brain.
Due to its properties such as theobromine and caffeine, dark chocolate helps with the brain’s cognitive function and even verbal fluency.
But we don’t even have to go to science anymore for this, but you might notice how you feel much more alert after taking a bite of chocolate.
And what we just mentioned, is the science behind that. So the next time you take an exam or feel the need to be more alert/awake, it might be a good idea to have some dark chocolate. It might help you focus more and remember things.
Recipes for Eating Healthy Dark Chocolate
#1 Eat it as a sandwich spread
Dark chocolate can be consumed by spreading it on top of your crunchy toast. There are many products out there in the market that has melted dark chocolate for you to try readily. Personally, this kind of meal is what I always eat before or after I work out.
Or more accurately, when I’m short on time.
As some people might overlook, dark chocolate spreads or cacao, in general, is a good source of protein. So, if you have a sweet tooth craving after a workout or before going to school, a dark chocolate sandwich spread might be a good idea.
#2 Use it to make fondues
Berries are also a good source of antioxidants just like cacao. So, just imagine some antioxidants you will probably take in by eating strawberries (or any berries) dipped in dark chocolate.
For this, all you will be needing are just chill berries and a melted bar of dark chocolate. Preferably 70 to 85% concentrated dark chocolate bars. Make sure not to add too much sugar because this will only cancel out the benefits
If you can’t stand the taste of it, then use organic or natural sweeteners. However, again, this is something that should still be taken in moderation, despite the benefits.
#3 Replace your milk chocolate with dark chocolate when making cakes.
Whether it be your oven baked cake, mug lava cake or your refrigerated non-bake cake, dark chocolate can always be a good and a healthier substitute for milk chocolate. But the best part is, you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
With the right ingredients and measurements, it can taste just as good!
For mug lava cakes and refrigerated no bake cake, again, you can make use of melted dark chocolate. Just add a bit of butter and powdered sugar (or any healthier sweetening options) to get the right consistency and texture, then voila!
As for baked dark chocolate cakes, you can use the dark chocolate as filling or icing. Or even the natural flavor of the sponge or chiffon cake itself. Dark chocolate cocoa that is unsweetened can also give you that same effect.
Wrapping It Up
At the end of the day, there are a lot of foods deemed “unhealthy” but are beneficial. As long as taken in moderation, treats such as chocolates (or dark chocolates) are not so bad.
With a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, your body will be able to break down whatever you eat.