Kitchen Confidant Blog

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

 

 

In a word, YES!

This time of year, I look forward to all the season has to offer. Some join me in enjoying the festivities, the fun, and the food… but others fear November and December…

…Especially when it comes to chocolate.

Do you find yourself dubbing a party a “free pass” in order to enjoy it? Or does the question “is this naughty or nice?” enter your mind before accepting even one decadent morsel? Then read on and find out more about why dark chocolate can now be permanently placed on your “nice” list!

The darker the chocolate, the lower the amount of sugar.

Dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels. Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation flowing.

It’s also loaded with antioxidants (*aka flavonoids). Antioxidants help stabilize impaired and damaged areas of our bodies and free them of free radicals. (Free radicals can cause oxidative damage to cells, contributes to the aging process, and may lead to many illnesses.) The specific flavonoids (*aka antioxidants) in dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance by helping cells function normally and regain the ability to use insulin efficiently.

*See what I did there? ;) …In other words, they’re inter-related!

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on mood and cognitive health. Because it helps keep circulation flowing, it helps with the increase of blood flow to the brain and the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function.

Ever wondered why eating dark chocolate makes you feel happier?

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you fall in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, whose principle function is to inhibit the feeling of pain, by way of creating the feeling of euphoria.

Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities (IF you also practice proper dental hygiene). Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. However, chocolate also contains caffeine, but less than a cup of coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate, (think of a hershey bar) contains 27 mg of caffeine, whereas an eight ounce cup of coffee contains 200 mg.

Last, but not least, dark chocolate has a number of vitamins and minerals to support your health. Below are some found in high concentrations in dark chocolate:

Potassium – 1 of the 3 electrolytes helping to keep us in check! It maintains the fluid balance of our cells, our muscle and nerve function as well as our energy metabolism.

Copper – Is involved in the absorption, storage and metabolism of Iron, the formation of red blood cells, energy production, connective tissue synthesis and is an antioxidant.

Magnesium – Is needed for bone health, making new cells, activating B Vitamins, relaxing nerves and muscles, clotting blood, energy production, and the absorption of Calcium, Vitamin C and Potassium.

Iron – Is needed to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, metabolize energy, stabilize free radicals and synthesize DNA.

So. When someone offers you a small bar of dark chocolate this holiday season, you have many reasons to smile and say, “Why yes! I’d LOVE a piece!”