Several studies have suggested that a diet rich in dark chocolate can help protect cardiovascular health. In addition to lowering blood pressure and improving brain function, this substance contains antioxidants that may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The British Heart Foundation, however, urges caution when interpreting the findings of studies on flavanols. Although dark chocolate contains significant amounts of flavonols, it should not be interpreted as a substitute for other healthy foods.
Antioxidants in dark chocolate fight free radicals
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. These substances neutralize the effects of free radicals, which are responsible for numerous diseases. Many studies have shown that dark chocolate has a higher content of antioxidants than green tea and red wine. Furthermore, the cocoa beverage lowers blood levels of isoprostanes, which are markers of oxidative stress. The antioxidants in dark chocolate may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
They lower blood pressure
Recent research suggests that dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. This may be due to its flavonoids and antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory, blood-thinning, and blood-vessel relaxing properties. According to Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, flavonoids increase HDL cholesterol, which binds to “bad” LDL cholesterol. In addition to lowering blood pressure, these compounds may also lower cholesterol levels.
They lower blood sugar levels
Despite the fact that diabetics need to pay attention to their diet and their blood glucose levels, they can still enjoy sweets and dark chocolate. However, they should choose high-quality chocolates that are made with at least 70 percent cocoa. These chocolates have a stronger chocolate flavor, which means you can eat fewer pieces. Make sure to read the labels before buying dark chocolate, as the number of carbohydrates in some brands may be too high.
They improve brain function
The effects of dark chocolate consumption on brain function were noted in almost all brain regions. They were more prominent in the temporo-occipital and parieto-occipital regions, where neural circuits involved in episodic and visuospatial memory processes are located. Interestingly, the effects were not evident in all brain regions. A further study will look at these effects in the context of other health benefits of dark chocolate.
They reduce the risk of cancer
Eating foods rich in flavonoids, which fight against cancer, is recommended by the American Cancer Society. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate contains the cancer-fighting compound epicatechin, which contains 3.37 mg of iron per ounce. This amount is equivalent to 42% of the recommended daily allowance for postmenopausal women. This nutrient is beneficial to breast cancer cells because it facilitates growth, angiogenesis, and proliferation.