5 Benefits of Dark Chocolate
It’s true! Chocolate, in its right forms, can actually be good for you. MyMaha expert Cheryl Lin shares 5 reasons why chocolate can be a healthy indulgence
It might sound a little too good to be true, but chocolate, in its right forms, can actually be good for your heart, skin, blood pressure and stress levels. In its purest form, raw cacao comes from a bean that is rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein and essential minerals. When processed under high heat, cocoa is produced and this is what we consume in most commercial products. Despite the heating process, a large amount of antioxidants are retained in cocoa. Dark chocolate therefore, is much better than milk chocolate as it has a higher cocoa content, giving it a higher nutritive value. It is important to note that this is only the case if you select dark chocolate that has little to none sugars, milk fats and oil added to it.
1. Heart health
Plant phenols are compounds that have the antioxidant effects of reducing cellular damage linked to heart disease. Flavanols help to reduce the risk of heart disease by promoting healthy blood vessels and good circulation. And theobromine helps to stimulate the central nervous system and dilate blood vessels, giving the body a boost of energy.
2. Antioxidants and minerals
Raw cacao is thought to be a superfood as it has one of the highest sources of antioxidants such as cathechins and procyanidins. Antioxidants have an important function in the body as they destroy free radicals which are destructive molecules that contribute to heart disease, cancer and other chronic ailments. It is also rich in minerals such as magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Together, these function to promote good health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, lowering cholesterol and reducing arterial wall plaque.
Dairy is a common allergen and has been linked to poor digestion, weight gain and skin issues (to name a few). It can also interfere with the body’s absorption of antioxidants. As 70-90% of dark chocolate is made up of cocoa, there is a much lower concentration of milk solids as compared to milk chocolate, and the benefits of cocoa are less likely to be negated.
4. Mood enhancer
Most of us are guilty of associating chocolate with positive emotions. This is due to the chemical components found in cocoa that act complementarily to improve and increase the bioavailability of seratonin and other mood enhancing neurotransmitters in the body. These components include theobromine, lysine, lipase, linoleic and leucine. Dark chocolate also contains group B vitamins, which help to elevate our moods and boost energy.
Dark chocolate can also be beneficial for digestive health. First of all, as cacao is a good source of fiber and will help to promote digestion. It also helps to stimulate the body’s production of digestive enzymes and healthy microbes in the colon. These microbes work to break down the undigested fiber in cacao to produce short-chained fatty acids that can then be used by the body.
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