Hello fellow wellness warriors!
I hope that everyone had a fantastic Easter weekend. I’m not done with mine as I’m fortunate enough to have today off, but most people I know are back to the grind. I got to spend most of my weekend with Mike and my family, and it couldn’t have been any more relaxing. I was responsible for bringing dessert to my parent’s on Sunday, so I brought over a tasty and healthy apple crumble – yum!
But I’m not here today to talk about apple crumble… I’m here to talk about Easter candy… chocolate, specifically. If you know my family, you would know my mother never misses an opportunity to buy me junk food. What I see as a trip to the depths of sugar addiction, she sees as a loving, caring gesture that shows us how much she loves us. No matter how many times I ask her to stop buying me candy, she can’t. I don’t know if she even knows how.
But the more I learn about how awesome dark chocolate is, the more I realize she doesn’t HAVE to stop. She just needs to buy the right kind of chocolate instead of the sugar-coma-inducing kind! There are some serious nutritional benefits of dark chocolate that we all should be aware of.
Don’t believe me?
Here are 5 benefits of dark chocolate and why healthy for you!
1 | High quality dark chocolate is nutritious.
High quality dark chocolate (with 70%+ cocoa) has quite a few nutritious benefits. Minerals like iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, and even fibre can be found inside that dark chocolate bar! As nutrients, magnesium helps build bones and maintain the nervous system, iron helps metabolize proteins and produce red blood cells, and fibre maintains your bowels and helps control blood sugar levels. Flavanols, the flavanoids in dark chocolate, are actually antioxidants too, meaning they can help fight free radicals in the body. Bonus!
2 | Dark chocolate can help with stress relief.
As a dark chocolate fiend, this one isn’t too hard to believe for me. According to this study, dark chocolate helps to buffer our reaction to stressful situations. The chocolate helps reduce the amount of stress hormones secreted, specifically cortisol and epinephrine. Since the body’s response to the stress is minimized, those in the study felt less stressed.
Another interesting thing to note — people who are highly stressed typically have high blood pressure because of the release of these stress hormones. By reducing the body’s reaction to stress, it is possible that dark chocolate consumption can also help reduce the risk of high blood pressure as well.
3 | Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure.
A small square of dark chocolate can dilate our blood vessels and increase blood blow through our body. It is believed that the flavonoids in the dark chocolate have this dilating effect, so it’s important that the chocolate is at least 50-70% cocoa as darker chocolate contain more flavonoids. Another way dark chocolate can have a positive impact on blood pressure!
4 | Dark chocolate lowers cholesterol.
By lowering the LDL cholesterol and raising the HDL cholesterol, dark chocolate can help lower your overall cholesterol. Interestingly, it also helps to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is LDL which has reacted with free radicals having the ability to damage other tissues including the heart. This could lead to overall reduction in cardiovascular disease. Another awesome benefit of dark chocolate!
5 | Dark chocolate may be awesome “brain food”.
Based on this study, the flavanols in chocolate have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, increasing cognitive function. In addition, further research has showed that dark chocolate may help mild cognitive impairment in the elderly.
That’s it, Mike can’t hide the dark chocolate from me anymore. I’ll be eating it as brain food 😉
Isn’t it awesome all the wonderful things that dark chocolate does for us? Now remember, it is recommended that chocolate has a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, and that you don’t eat the entire chocolate bar. To truly reap some of these benefits of dark chocolate, all you need is a single square. Since chocolate still contains sugar, it’s best in moderation.
Overall, dark chocolate doesn’t need to belong on the naughty list. I think it’s important to allow yourself to indulge in healthier treats, and good quality dark chocolate seems to be a great option if you’re looking for tasty and somewhat-healthy pick-me-up!