Published: 01/31/2015 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Who hasn’t ever succumbed to the temptation of a delicious piece of dark chocolate, and even more so during winter, and just one single bite makes you quickly remember the heat of summer. This great satisfaction, however, usually turns into an instant feeling of guilt, for having eaten extra calories, as well as fat.
But don’t let that happen any more. Set your regret aside, and eat chocolate without any psychological remorse, so long as it is dark chocolate.
According to different studies detailed below, this product is beneficial to health for seven reasons.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Cardiovascular ally
According to a study performed by experts at the School of Medicine at the University of Athens, Greece, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, has a protecting effect on the cardiovascular system, at least during the three hours following its consumption.
2. Normalizes blood pressure
According to a study performed in Holland, published in the journal “Archives of Internal Medicine”, where 470 men between the ages of 65 and 84 years of age, proved that those who consumed more chocolate had better blood pressure levels. They also had 50% less likelihood of dying from cardiovascular illness.
3. Protects against cancer
One of the most inspiring pieces of news regarding dark chocolate consumption, is that it has been shown to act as a protector against diseases such as cancer or conditions, like cardiovascular disease and ictus. This is because cocoa contains a large amount of procyanidins, in addition to flavonoids, according to the United States Agricultural Investigation Service.
4. Rich in antioxidants
One hour after consuming dark chocolate can increase antioxidants in blood plasma by up to 20%. This was published in the scientific magazine Nature in 2005.
5. More active children
The University of Helsinki in Finland published a piece in the magazine Early Human Development which studies 300 pregnant women. The results at six months after birth were amazing. Children of women that consumed chocolate regularly during gestation, smiled longer and were more active.
6. Improves brain functions
Because chocolate contains stimulating substances like theobromine and Phenethylamine, in greater quantities than common chocolate, consuming dark chocolate coincides with better brain function, according a study performed by Wheeling University in Virginia.
7. Benefits smokers
Researchers at the Hospital University at Zurich performed a study on the effects of ingesting dark chocolate compared to white chocolate, which does not contain cocoa, in smokers. The smokers that consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate daily reduced by almost half, platelet activity with lesser probability of thrombosis, stroke, or heart attack, while white chocolate consumers had no positive effects.
However, they did emphasize that excessive chocolate consumption could increase calorie consumption and fat percentage.
- Loffredo, L., Perri, L., Catasca, E., Pignatelli, P., Brancorsini, M., Nocella, C., … Violi, F. (2014). Dark chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy in patients with peripheral artery disease. Journal of the American Heart Association, 3(4).
- Kerimi, A., & Williamson, G. (2015). The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate. Vascular Pharmacology, 71, 11–15.
- Kuebler, U., Arpagaus, A., Meister, R. E., von Kanel, R., Huber, S., Ehlert, U., & Wirtz, P. H. (2016). Dark chocolate attenuates intracellular pro-inflammatory reactivity to acute psychosocial stress in men: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 57, 200–208.
- Taub, P. R., Ramirez-Sanchez, I., Patel, M., Higginbotham, E., Moreno-Ulloa, A., Roman-Pintos, L. M., … Villarreal, F. (2016). Beneficial effects of dark chocolate on exercise capacity in sedentary subjects: underlying mechanisms. A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Food & Function, 7(9), 3686–3693.
- Radosinska, J., Horvathova, M., Frimmel, K., Muchova, J., Vidosovicova, M., Vazan, R., & Bernatova, I. (2017). Acute dark chocolate ingestion is beneficial for hemodynamics via enhancement of erythrocyte deformability in healthy humans. Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.), 39, 69–75.
- Magrone, T., Russo, M. A., & Jirillo, E. (2017). Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, 677.
- Petyaev, I. M., & Bashmakov, Y. K. (2017). Dark Chocolate: Opportunity for an Alliance between Medical Science and the Food Industry? Frontiers in Nutrition, 4, 43.
- Ibero-Baraibar, I., Abete, I., Martinez, J. A., Rodriguez Mateos, A., & Zulet, M. A. (2017). [Guidelines for consumption of dark chocolate. Pleasure and cognitive health?]. Nutricion hospitalaria, 34(4), 759–760.
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