While some people enjoy dark chocolate just for its taste, there’s more to this treat than just pleasure for the senses. Scientists have discovered that dark chocolate is actually good for the body. This fact may encourage more people to choose it over sweeter alternatives, such as milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate health benefits include a unique effect on a person’s blood pressure. Evidence suggests that people with mild cases of high blood pressure can help to lower it by eating more dark chocolate. However, dark chocolate cannot take the place of treatments prescribed by a medical professional. Additionally, it’s not a good idea to overeat dark chocolate, as doing so can lead to tooth decay and unwanted weight gain.
For some people, it is surprising that something they enjoy as a snack is so healthy for their blood pressure. The key to understanding dark chocolate health benefits that are specific to lower blood pressure is plant phenols. The cocoa phenols found in the dark chocolate are the compounds responsible for dark chocolate’s blood-pressure-lowering effect.
Many people seek out foods and drinks that are high in antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to the development of disease. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, and eating it can help the body to avoid such things as cancer and heart disease. In fact, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than some fruit, such as strawberries. Dark chocolate health benefits even extend to lowering cholesterol. It can reduce the bad type of cholesterol, referred to as LDL, by as much as 10 percent.
To enjoy the antioxidant effects of dark chocolate, a person shouldn’t consume it with milk. Milk seems to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants it could otherwise get from the chocolate. As such, milk chocolate does not offer the same health benefits.
Some people worry about the amount of fat in this type of chocolate, but only a small portion of the fat in chocolate is bad for the health. This type is called palmitic acid, and it can contribute to high cholesterol and increased risk of developing heart disease. Fortunately, it only accounts for about a third of the fat content of dark chocolate.
In addition to dark chocolate health benefits, this treat makes a person feel good. It stimulates the body to produce endorphins. It also contains substances that act as stimulants, making a person feel more alert and ready for action. It even contains a substance called serotonin, which can help to prevent depression.