3 Little Known Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
People have known for years (even before it was scientifically proven) that dark chocolate is good for you. There are several well-known and often-cited benefits, but today we’ll be talking about some of the lesser-known ways that dark chocolate can be good for your health.
Dark Chocolate Improves Brain Function
Cocoa contains plant-based nutrients (also called phytonutrients) called flavanols. Dark chocolate, which contains a high amount of cocoa solids with little-to-no added sugar, is high in flavanols.
In a study featured in the US National Library of Medicine, it was shown that consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood circulation in the brain. Increased circulation in the brain can boost memory, clarity, and focus, and also improve your overall mood.
Dark chocolate also contains the stimulants which have been proven to boost short-term brain function.
Dark Chocolate Protects Your Skin Against Sun Damage
I should start this off by saying that eating dark chocolate before you go to the beach is not an adequate way to protect yourself against harmful UV rays. However, a 2009 study did show that regular consumption of high-flavanol chocolate more than doubled minimal erythema dose (MED, the minimum amount of UV rays to cause redness 24 hours after exposure) after 12 weeks.
So while dark chocolate doesn’t provide immediate protection against the sun, you might want to make it a regular staple of your diet in the weeks or months leading up to a sunny vacation.
Fights heart disease/ depression
Cocoa has been shown to fight heart disease in two entirely separate ways.
First, according to a study cited by Harvard Medical School, regular consumption of cocoa helped reduce or prevent adhesion molecules, which are proteins that can cause plaque buildup on artery walls and thus lead to heart attack or stroke.
Second, eating dark chocolate in moderation has been shown to help fight depression. Depression has been shown to contribute to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which also contribute to heart attack risk. So by fighting depression, dark chocolate fights heart disease!