Dark Chocolate and health - 5 Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

Who doesn’t like to indulge in silky smooth and creamy chocolate? It can be pure heaven and I for one have no intention of giving it up… ever! Thankfully, we shouldn’t feel too guilty about this pleasure, and if we eat the 70% minimum cacao solids type then dark chocolate and health can be a marriage made in heaven. Read on and find out about the little known 5 dark chocolate health benefits that will give you an excuse to indulge in this treat any time you please.

 

DARK CHOCOLATE AND HEALTH

cacao powder on spoon

The average person eats about 12 pounds of chocolate per year (me more), but most people are eating the low quality, high sugar, high fat versions. Many of these contain so little actual cocoa powder that they have no benefits at all, and in fact swing in the complete opposite direction making them a junk food.

This is definitely NOT the healthy and antioxidant rich variety that I am going to talk about in this post. For starters, you should aim for at least 70% minimum cacao solids when you go on a chocolate buying spree; most quality brands will tell you on the packaging how much cacao is in their chocolate, so it’s easy to see at a glance what you’re buying.

 

Cacao Content:

face covered in chocolate

You can start yourself at 70% then build up a bit higher as your taste buds become accustomed to it. I actually prefer 80-85% these days because I’m not craving the sugar in chocolate anymore, and only recently I come across 100% cacao chocolate which I was convinced would be quite terrible, but actually tasted quite nice… bizarre, I know! I find that cacao actually has a sweetish taste even without sugar, but that’s probably because I’m so used to it.

 

Buy Organic:

Try to buy organic chocolate where possible as those cacao beans are notorious for being sprayed with huge amounts of fertilisers and pesticides. It definitely won’t harm to buy some of the lovely new ‘raw’ chocolates that are now on the market as their beans haven’t been roasted and so have all their wonderful nutrients intact.

Alternatively you could buy yourself a good quality cocoa powder and make your own hot chocolate, cakes, or whatever else you fancy putting chocolate into. Later on in the post I shall include an easy recipe for my homemade, super healthy chocolate that contains just a few simple ingredients and is super indulgent. Beware – it’s addictive!

 

5 DARK CHOCOLATE HEALTH BENEFITS

1. ANTI AGING SUPER FOOD

raw cacao beans

The high antioxidant content of dark chocolate helps to fight free radicals in the body. This is good news because free radicals steal healthy electrons from our cells structure’s, causing havoc and damaging DNA as they go, thus boosting the dreaded aging process and eventually the onset of disease.

Cacao is specifically high in the antioxidant antholyanidin, and also epicatechins. These can stop all this bad aging related stuff from happening by disarming the free radicals before they can do any damage.

 

2. HEART HEALTH

Flavenols have a positive effect on heart health by improving the flow of blood to both the heart and the brain, and helping to lower blood pressure. These flavenols also make blood platelets less sticky and harder to clot – therefore reducing the risk of both blood clots and strokes.

 

3. LOWER CHOLESTEROL

heart disease

Dark chocolate also contains cocoa butter which in itself is a heart healthy monounsaturated fat. There have been many studies conducted on the effect of polyphenols in dark chocolate and heart health, including its ability to lower bad cholesterol.

 

4. SHARPER BRAIN POWER

Studies suggest that the flavenols in dark chocolate increase blood flow to cerebral matter, making it good for memory, focus, and cognitive performance.

Dark chocolate is actually HIGHER in antioxidants than super fruit powders such as acai, blueberry, cranberry, and even pomegranate.

 

Green Super Food Powder

Pairing super foods like cacao (though probably not together) with other antioxidant rich super food powders such as my personal favorite Dr. Schulze’s green super food powder, will give you a full spectrum of different antioxidants, phytonutrients, and nutrients for good all round health and vitality.

And there’s more good news; these same flavenols are also found in red wine and tea – suggesting that not all good things in life are bad for us – providing we don’t go over board of course! 

 

5. POTENTIALLY GOOD FOR THE TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF CANCER

roasted cacao beans

Although the studies in this field are still emerging, and with good prospects; it stands to reason that with its impressive amounts of antioxidants and flavenoids, dark chocolate may play a role in the cancer protection and treatment field.

Making sure you eat lots of other antioxidant rich superfoods will give you a whole array of nutrients and anti aging petrochemicals that are also crucial to health. Don’t just rely on one thing; make sure you eat a rainbow of colours from various fruits and vegetables every day.

MY HOMEMADE 5 MINUTE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE

Ingredients:
  • 1 part extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 part good quality 100% cocoa powder (preferably raw cocoa powder for super health benefits)
  • Healthy sweetener to taste. I use Xylitol or stevia because syrups will just sink to the bottom. Plus these are low GI sugars.
  • Tiny pinch of sea salt

Other optional ingredients of your choice include nuts, seeds, desiccated coconut (my favorite version), dried fruits, OR anything else you can possibly imagine. Go wild with it and add lots of nutritious ingredients.

Method: Heat the coconut oil gently in a saucepan until just melted but not too hot. It’s important to keep nutrients intact by not over heating these delicate ingredients. Add all other ingredients and stir until smooth. Put into a tin pre-lined with tin foil of any size or shape. I use a bigger tin as I like my chocolate to be thinner and have that ‘snap’. Place in the fridge or freezer until set, then enjoy.

It’s great to eat from frozen also!

Here’s another homemade recipe you may want to try:

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Categories: SUPER FOODS

Stefanie Taylor

I have studied nutrition for many years, and have since discovered that a plant based diet has been the most beneficial to my health and body. I have more energy and zest for life than I have ever had and this website is dedicated to helping others who wish to know more, and start out on this lifestyle.

22 Comments

Daniel · 12/01/2018 at 5:52 pm

I never really thought about making my own dark chocolate from 100% cocoa but that makes complete sense. Plus stevia is better for you than sugar so it’s a win win. What do you think the best 100% cocoa is? Do you have a preference? I definitely need to do that because my work likes to offer sugar all day long for some reason and I definitely need another option!! Lol

    Stefanie Taylor · 12/01/2018 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Daniel, I know how hard it is to avoid sugar in this world ha ha. And it’s just so hard to resist as well. If you are going to make your own cacao then I would go for organic powder. There is a brand called Green and Blacks had do a good cocoa powder. Or, even better but more expensive is raw cocoa powder which you can get in most health food stores or online. The raw stuff has all it’s nutrients in tact so therefore has even better health benefits. Yes, go ahead and make your own chocolate, you will love It! One thing with it though is it really is best left in the fridge at all times as it melts more easily than normal chocolate (probably because it hasn’t been tempered). Good luck.

Marques Pizarro · 14/01/2018 at 12:50 am

Hi Stefanie, I seem to have trouble getting to your article, just to let you know.

But I will come back to your website because I would love to read about the health benefits of dark chocolate because I am a fitness advocate and I emphasize how certain foods are good for us.

    Stefanie Taylor · 14/01/2018 at 12:50 am

    Hi Marques, sorry about that, my site is back up and running now so would be happy if you could take a look and leave a comment. You will find it very interesting if you are a fitness advocate…as am I.

ariel · 16/01/2018 at 7:48 pm

Hello, so who says that life cannot be a chocolate party?? Grin. I have a question though, I had to give up chocolate about 20 years ago because of the caffeine content. Does the organic raw still have natural caffeine levels?
That was such a great article. I so like reading your posts. Many thanks! In peace and gratitude, Ariel

    Stefanie Taylor · 17/01/2018 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Ariel, that is a great question because I find I cannot eat more than about 50 grams a day due to the caffeine content, and I would definitely advise against eating too much dark chocolate in the evening, just as with tea and coffee. In fact this is such a good point that I am going to go in a revise the post to include this information.

    And yes, the organic raw still has caffeine, but I find it doesn’t affect me in the same way as the normal stuff. Somehow because it’s in a more natural form it seems to process differently in the body but I have no evidence of this, just my own experiences. So you may want to give it a try for yourself, just start with a little and see how you feel.

    I’m pretty sure, as with most things, it is a case of starting with a small amount as you will be more sensitive until you get used to it.

peter · 16/01/2018 at 8:15 pm

I have always been mindful of chocolate with the fear that it might have health risks. Now I know better, happy to enjoy my yum yum chocolate. But is there a limit to how much I could have a day?

    Stefanie Taylor · 17/01/2018 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Peter, in answer to your question about how much you should have I would say yes, there is a limit as cacao, although high in antioxidants and all the other wonderful things discussed in the post, it also contains caffeine, and so you should take this into consideration if you have problems sleeping or with anxiety issues.

    My advice is to not consume it in the evenings and just eat in moderation. I definitely wouldn’t eat more than about 50 grams a day of the really dark stuff.

Benjamin Folliot · 16/01/2018 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for telling us more about chocolate. It’s actually awesome the number of good properties that it has. Making my own chocolate seems like a great idea. I think I’ll follow your recipe.

    Stefanie Taylor · 17/01/2018 at 5:21 pm

    Hi benjamin, thanks for reading. Yes chocolate is just Gods gift to us if you ask me which is why I like to make my own healthier versions. Yes, definitely give it a go, you won’t regret it if you do I’m sure. Let me know how you get on.

Blanka · 16/01/2018 at 8:42 pm

Wow! I like your 5-minute chocolate recipe. I have all ingredients and I am going to make this chocolate. I tend to limit intake of chocolate but there are so many benefits of dark chocolate that it seems better to eat it than avoid it. Thanks for the great post!

    Stefanie Taylor · 17/01/2018 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Blanka, yes I’m a self confessed chocaholic which is why I need to make sure that I make healthy versions of the stuff. It’s just so addictive, but in a good way. Yes, definitely go for it and make this homemade version. I would love to know how you get on!

sarah · 21/01/2018 at 1:33 pm

Wow, what great information. I wasn’t aware that dark chocolate has so many great health benefits. I will share it with others, such a nice and very well written article.

    Stefanie Taylor · 22/01/2018 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Sarah, yes dark chocolate is awesome! I have a bar of it every day, I am an addict, what can I say. It also gives me a boost of energy which is why I often crave it in the afternoon when I have that dip. Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your comment.

Lyn V. · 23/01/2018 at 10:45 pm

I followed the chocolate to your post, and appreciate the points you make! I want to follow up with that recipe, but would need to buy the cocoa powder, first. Thank you!

    Stefanie Taylor · 24/01/2018 at 7:38 pm

    Hi Lyn, really glad you liked the post and yes, get the cocoa and try this lovely chocolate. It’s a staple in my house.

penelope · 12/02/2018 at 6:45 pm

You had me at homemade chocolate! In my last home there was a very popular chocolate shop that made only raw chocolate candies…they were outrageously delicious. One in particular, a chocolate covered fig, usually sold out by noon. I think I’m finally gonna try to make it myself with the help of your recipe. thanks!

    Stefanie Taylor · 12/02/2018 at 9:54 pm

    I know, it’s definitely ALL about the chocolate ha ha. I love it so much too which is why I am glad I can have it still on my healthy eating plan. You should definitely try and make your own Penelope as I’m sure you will love it like I do. Good luck!

Bill Wymarra · 26/02/2018 at 11:26 am

Great article Stefanie!! I love eating dark chocolate and these 5 points just confirm it for me now. Thanks heaps for the info.

    Stefanie Taylor · 26/02/2018 at 4:27 pm

    Hi Bill, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I’m very fortunate that dark chocolate has so many health benefits as I am a self confessed chocoholic ha ha. At least we don’t have to feel to guilty about some of life’s little pleasures at least.

Lina Rose · 04/03/2018 at 1:19 am

Thanks Stefanie for sharing this. I love chocolate! Glad to know it’s a good thing to love in moderation, of course.

    Stefanie Taylor · 04/03/2018 at 9:27 am

    Hi Linda, I know I love it, can’t live without the stuff! It must be a girl thing ha ha.

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