Did you know dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants in the world? It can also satisfy your cravings, lower your blood pressure, and even help your brain. So next time you’re in the mood for chocolate, grab an ounce of dark chocolate and read these five fast facts to feel guilt-free about your indulgence.
1. Dark has a high percentage of cocoa.
This means there’s less room for milk, sugar, and fat that its milk chocolate friend is known for. It also has more fiber, potassium, zinc, and iron than other chocolate varieties, all of which support a healthy body. With a higher cocoa content (think more than 70% in your dark chocolate selection), you can reap many benefits from eating it in small amounts. Just be aware of the higher caffeine content than milk chocolate (32 mg vs. 8 mg), if you’re having a bite before you go to sleep.
2. Dark chocolate is good for your heart!
A Swedish study of more than 31,000 women showed that over the course of 9 years, heart failure risk was cut in half by those who ate one or more servings of dark chocolate each week. Dark chocolate can also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and hardening of the arteries by improving blood flow to the heart. Dark chocolate may also help prevent the formation of blood clots.
3. Lower your blood pressure
Since it’s full of good-for-you antioxidants, it helps prevent the oxidation of cells in your body. This deters the amount of damage caused by my free radicals. Flavonoids, an antioxidant compound found in the cocoa-rich sweet, increase the flexibility of veins and arteries, which lowers your blood pressure.
4. Dark chocolate can also improve your brain function!
Researchers from Oxford University found a correlation between flavanol-rich foods and higher scores on cognitive tests. The study, which looked at the diets of more than 2,000 people over age 70, noted better performance from those who consumed foods such as dark chocolate, wine, and tea, all of which contain a higher amount of flavanols. So by eating dark chocolate more regularly, you could help improve your cognitive function.
5. Have fewer cravings
Other researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate also lessens cravings and is more filling than milk chocolate. Although it has less sugar and fat than milk and white chocolate, which isn’t technically chocolate, it should still be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Limit yourself to 1 oz. per day to satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard. It will be easier to stick to your healthy food choices when you stick with the small portion!