Why Dark Chocolate is Good for You: 5 Health Benefits + 5 Tips
Dark chocolate is popular all over the world. Because of the sugar content, you may have intuitively assumed that it is unhealthy. But this is not the case with dark chocolate. In this article, you will learn why it is actually very healthy and even makes you happy,
Dark chocolate is not only delicious but also very nutritious! It contains many minerals and trace elements such as copper, manganese, zinc and chromium, as well as antioxidants.
In this article, we embark on a journey into the world of dark chocolate – from its history to its health-promoting properties to a wide variety of preparation inspirations.
Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate for Men and Women
There are many reasons why dark chocolate is considered a healthy component of a balanced diet. This is because it is rich in antioxidants and natural nutrients that can have a positive effect on your body.
It also contains valuable vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, as well as fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Chocolate with a high cocoa content is also rich in flavonoids and theobromine. Flavonoids are known to reduce inflammation and decrease oxidative stress in the body.
Theobromine can help lower blood pressure and promote concentration.
The treat is also known to reduce stress and improve mood.
Scientists have found that dark chocolate increases the brain’s production of the happy hormone serotonin, reducing stress and improving our mood.
Nutrients in Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is healthy because it contains a variety of nutrients. Some of the most important nutrients in the treat are iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and various antioxidants.
These ingredients help to keep the body healthy and protect it from disease. A small serving of dark chocolate (about 30 grams or 3 Tablespoons) provides almost 25 percent of an adult’s daily magnesium needs.
Iron prevents anemia, while the magnesium content is important for your bone structure, immune and muscle functions. The zinc this kind of chocolate contains supports the immune system and helps the body heal wounds.
Potassium regulates the water-electrolyte balance in the body and is important for heart function. Blood formation, as well as nervous system function, are enhanced by copper, while antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress, preventing heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases.
In addition, dark chocolate contains vitamin A, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin E. These vitamins help the body regenerate and produce new cells. They also support your body while breaking down toxins.
Why Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart
The antioxidants found in dark chocolate are not only good for your overall health, but also promote heart health.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that people who regularly consumed the treat had improved cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It was also found to lower triglyceride levels and increase HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).
Effects on Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Blood pressure and cholesterol levels also benefit from eating dark chocolate. According to a study from the University of L’Aquila in Italy, the healthy snack can actually lower blood pressure.
As part of the study, overweight people ate 40 grams (1 cup) of dark chocolate a day for a week. It was shown that diastolic blood pressure was lowered. Another study also illustrates the effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels:
According to a study of 60 healthy adults published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dark chocolate can lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol). The LDL cholesterol levels of the participants decreased significantly.
Effects on the Blood
Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it is a good blood thinner. The healthy snack contains a combination of antioxidants and dietary fiber.
These ingredients help to dilute the blood by lowering blood lipids in the body. The antioxidants in dark chocolate also protect against heart disease and heart attacks.
Why Chocolate Can Make you Happy
Can eating chocolate really make you happy? The answer is yes. In fact, it’s a delicious and effective way to treat yourself! This is because of the valuable ingredients in dark chocolate.
It also contains caffeine as well as theobromine and phenylethylamine. These substances promote the sensation of feeling energetic and happy. In addition, the substances also increase attention and concentration, assist in stress management and can increase motivation.
Why Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Skin
Dark chocolate can help you to get more beautiful skin as it contains flavonoids that moisturize it. These antioxidants contained in the healthy snack help you to reflect harmful UV rays from your skin, which prevents not only sunburn, and premature aging, but also skin cancer.
The healthy ingredients in the treat help to avoid the appearance of wrinkles and other impurities.
Moreover, flavonoids can have an anti-inflammatory effect and thus accelerate the healing process in skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.
Regular, but moderate consumption of dark chocolate can improve skin hydration, elasticity, and thickness, resulting in a more youthful and glowing appearance.
Why you Can Eat Dark Chocolate During a Keto-Diet
As you probably already know, sweets and candies, as well as salty snacks, do not fit with a keto diet, as they contain a lot of carbs.
However, this does not always have to be the case with dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains comparatively few carbohydrates because it is made with almost no milk and less sugar but more cocoa.
However, you should make sure that you buy high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70% so that you do not exceed your daily carb level.
Note: the darker the chocolate, the less sugar.
If you want to integrate dark chocolate into your diet plan, this is possible in principle. But it depends largely on what else you eat throughout the day.
But as always during a diet, portion control is key, even with dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Can Help You to Lose Weight
If you eat dark chocolate in moderate amounts, it can definitely help with weight loss.
It contains unsaturated fatty acids, which boost the metabolism and thus also help to burn calories faster.
Due to the fact that the magnesium and antioxidants in dark chocolate relieve pain, they can encourage us to exercise.
If you choose dark chocolate as a snack before your workout, it will help you push your limits during sports.
Moreover, dark chocolate has a positive impact on your blood sugar level.
So, if you eat a few pieces of dark chocolate before a meal, it can also alleviate cravings. Therefore, it helps you to eat less which is compatible with weight loss as well.
Facts about Chocolate – What Dark Chocolate is
Chocolate is a very old food. Its history dates back to ancient Mexico, where it was first made during the time of the Aztecs. The Aztecs revered the cacao bean and considered it sacred.
They believed that the cacao bean breathed and lived just like a human being, and so for them, it was also a symbol of life and rebirth. However, only high-ranking citizens were allowed to consume it.
We now have many different types of chocolate – from dark to light – to choose from. However, even unprocessed chocolate products such as cacao or criollo chocolate can be healthy if they are of good quality.
Why Dark Chocolate is Good for You but not Milk Chocolate
Not all chocolate is the same. There is white chocolate, (whole) milk chocolate and dark chocolate. White chocolate consists of cocoa butter, sugar, whole milk powder, and possibly some real vanilla or other flavorings.
Milk chocolate, on the other hand, usually consists of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and whole milk powder. Dark chocolate, the crème de la crème of cocoa nuts consists solely of cocoa mass, sugar and possibly a few flavors.
Unlike (whole) milk chocolate and white chocolate, dark chocolate has some nutritional benefits. It has a particularly high cocoa content, while (whole) milk chocolate and white chocolate have a higher sugar content.
Thus, when consumed, dark chocolate provides significantly less fat and sugar, while at the same time providing more fiber and is also rich in antioxidants.
Cocoa-Percentage in Dark Chocolate
Not all dark chocolates are created equal. There are different types of dark chocolate with different percentages of cocoa.
There is a mild form of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of about 55 percent, that has a "sweet" taste.
It is in fact the most suitable for everyday consumption and can be used in a variety of ways.
Dark chocolate with around 70 percent of cocoa or more, on the other hand, has a much more intense and tart flavor.
Therefore, it is usually used mainly for baking.
Despite the bitter taste, it is more healthy.
Chocolates with 80 percent cocoa or higher contain many phenols. These are also found in red wine and reduce the risk of heart disease and circulatory problems.
Caffeine-Percentage in Dark Chocolate
The caffeine content of chocolate increases with the cocoa content. So remember: the more cocoa content, the more caffeine.
"Usual" dark chocolate with 45 to 59 percent cocoa solids contains an average of about 12 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.
To compare, a bar of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 to 85 percent serves around 25 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.
In fact, beverages such as coffee or energy drinks contain more caffeine, but you quickly drink too much of it which can result in hyperactivity.
Dark chocolate is in fact a healthy alternative to the caffeine contained in coffee or energy drinks.
How to Identify High-Quality Dark Chocolate
If you want to enjoy all the healthy properties of dark chocolate, you first need to know what to look for when getting groceries.
The best and healthiest dark chocolate has a cocoa content of at least 70 percent and contains only cocoa butter as another ingredient. The higher the cocoa content, the higher the quality of the product.
Another indication of high-quality chocolate is whether or not it is processed. Raw cocoa is unprocessed and thus retains its natural nutrients and antioxidants, while alkalized cocoa powder is treated with bases.
This means that it loses some of its health-promoting properties in processing. The higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants the chocolate contains.
Fine cocoa is also ten times more expensive than plain consumer cocoa. So this means that high-quality dark chocolate is also significantly more expensive than low-quality. Moreover, you should make sure that the chocolate does not contain unhealthy additives such as sugar, flavors, and dyes.
Tips on How to Eat Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is delicious and at the same time very healthy. You can find tips on balanced consumption and inspiration for dishes below.
How Much Chocolate You Should Eat a Day
Even though there are benefits to consuming chocolate, you should enjoy it in moderation. Some experts recommend no more than 20 to 40 grams per day to enjoy all the benefits of dark chocolate without unwanted calorie gain. – Just the right amount for a healthy snack or as part of a dessert.
The Best Time to Eat Chocolate
The best time to eat chocolate is actually in the morning. Add it to your cereal, for example, or enjoy it as an energy bar. Dark chocolate is a healthy snack that regulates blood sugar levels and gives the needed energy for the day.
A new study found that people who eat dark chocolate in the morning work more effectively and concentrate better than people who don’t. So that’s one more reason to start the day with some chocolate.
Tips for Using Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is simply delicious. But it does not always have to be consumed as a conventional bar snack. High-quality dark chocolate is suitable for a wide variety of treats.
It is ideal for melting. Perfect for wrapping fruit like strawberries or bananas in a chocolate shell, but there are much more unusual culinary chocolate creations.
Popular Dishes with Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is very popular in upscale restaurants for appetizers and snacks, as well as hearty dishes like meat. But it doesn’t have to be served only in restaurants. It is quite easy for anyone to enhance delicious dishes with a little chocolate.
Here is a short list of inspirational suggestions that can be easily prepared in any kitchen:
- Salad dressing with chocolate
- Chocolate chili minced rice balls
- Pumpkin soup with apricots, ricotta and dark chocolate
- Mini meatballs with cinnamon and chocolate
- Chocolate Roast Sauce
- Oven fries with chocolate sauce
- Stroganoff with spicy cocoa bean strips
- Chocolate chili
- Cheesecake with chocolate crumbs
- Peppermint Chocolate Brownies
- Muffins and cupcakes e.g. cherry
- Mousse au Chocolat
- Chocolate ice cream
- Hot cocoa with whipped cream
- Pralines and bars
How to Make Chocolate
Why buy something when you can make it yourself? As a bonus, when you do it yourself, you can make it completely according to your own taste. Making chocolate is not difficult at all and you can even do it at home.
This is what you need to make your own chocolate.
The main ingredients for making dark chocolate are cocoa butter and cocoa oil. Depending on taste, you can add other ingredients, such as dried fruit, nuts, sugar, flavorings or colorings.
The most important thing in the production of dark chocolate is consistency. To achieve this, it is important that you use the right ingredients.
Optimally, the cocoa you use comes from organic farming and is free of all additives. All flavorings and colorings should also be of natural origin. This will ensure that it is the best chocolate.
For your specially created chocolate you need:
- 50 g (1/4 cup) cocoa butter or coconut oil
- 50 g (1/cup) baking cocoa (sifted)
- 30 – 50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar (sifted) – optional
- 1 vanilla bean (pulp)
- 1 pinch of salt
If you like, you can add nuts and dried fruit as well as natural flavors.
The preparation is quite simple:
- First, you must heat the cocoa butter in a double boiler.
- Once it is completely melted without lumps, remove the cocoa butter from the heat and add the other ingredients.
- For the most easy handling, put the liquid chocolate mixture in silicone ramekins, alternatively on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Let it harden and enjoy.
Eight reasons why Dark Chocolate is Good for You
This section is comprised of a list that succinctly tells you the benefits of eating dark chocolate. If you want to gain all the benefits, you should enjoy chocolate regularly but in moderation.
Moreover, keep in mind: The higher the cocoa content of your chocolate, the healthier it is.
But for now, enjoy your chocolate and its benefits for your health. – Bon appétit!
- It contains a variety of nutrients that protect you from disease
- The included antioxidants support your heart health
- Chocolate is a blood thinner, therefore it protects you against heart attacks
- Some of the included substances can make you feel happy, energetic, and powerful
- It helps you to get a more beautiful skin and even prevents skin cancer
- Dark chocolate supports burning calories
- The caffeine contained helps you to stay awake
- Dark chocolate before a meal reduces cravings