Eating dark chocolate has been linked to improved cognition, better mood, better cardiovascular health, and stress reduction. Exactly how, why and how much chocolate do we need to eat to experience these benefits? The good news is it doesn’t take much. If you are a chocolate lover to start, then you are already familiar with its medicinal qualities as well as it’s unctious flavor. If you love dark chocolate, the higher the percentage of cacao means the less chocolate you will need to feel the benefits. Percentages in the 80-90% will certainly give you a boost. Higher percentages offer the least amount of sugar per ounce.
What makes dark chocolate so beneficial? There are many nutrients in chocolate that contribute to well being. Let’s start with the heavy hitters : Flavonoids are antioxidants which attribute to most of the cardiovascular and cognitive benefits. Research states that eating 48 gms of organic chocolate with 80% cacao, accumulate in regions of the brain associated with learning and memory. Theobromine-acts like a stimulant and is similar to caffeine. There are higher concentrations of theobromine in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate. If you find yourself energized after eating your favorite dark chocolate it is because of the theobromine so indulge early in the day if you have trouble sleeping. L-Theanine which is an amino acid–produces calming alpha waves in the brain and reduces blood pressure. Dark chocolate has a fair amount of it which attributes directly to it’s stress reducing and anxiety reducing effects.
Dark chocolate is also laden with magnesium, dietary fiber, iron and zinc. There are a myriad of other benefits associated with eating dark chocolate such as lowering blood sugar, and reducing blood pressure. Despite the high calorie count and the high fat content, we can safely and beneficially add dark chocolate to our daily lives if we reduce the number of calories elsewhere in our diets. If you have a hard time with the “bitter” taste of dark chocolate, try several different brands, but look for high percentages of cacao. I am certain you will find a favorite brand and fall in love with dark chocolate. It only takes 1 or 2 squares to achieve the benefits listed above.