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September 16, 2015

Ten Incredible Benefits of Dark Chocolate

A lot of people are disappointed by food. Their poor diets have made them overweight and sick. That’s where dark chocolate comes in. It is so incredibly good for you that as long as you eat it in moderation, it is one of those special foods that should restore your faith in the power of food to heal.

Here are ten reasons to enjoy dark chocolate without any shame.
#1: Provides Key Nutrients That Most People Don’t Get Enough Of.
Probably the last thing dark chocolate is known for is its nutrition, but the fact is that the cocoa bean (from which chocolate is made) is packed with important nutrients most people could use more of. In 50 grams of dark chocolate (half your average chocolate bar), you get 5.5 g of fiber, along with a nice dose of iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, and selenium.
#2: Jam Packed With Antioxidants.
The antioxidant activity in chocolate is unmatched—it outpaces both blueberries and acai berries for total polyphenol and flavanol content. It’s these bioactive compounds that protect you from inflammation, aging, and promote health. The one catch with chocolate is that it needs to at least 70 percent cocoa solids, low in sugar, and free of artificial chemicals and flavorings that have a negative effect on health. You also need to moderate consumption since chocolate is high in calories—a half a bar contains roughly 300 calories.
#3: Better Body Composition. 
Association studies suggest that people who eat more chocolate have less body fat—hooray! Researchers believe this is due to how the antioxidants in chocolate increase satiety and decrease the expression of genes involved in fat synthesis, thereby reducing the digestion and absorption of fats and carbs.
#4: Improves Blood Flow & May Enhance Recovery From Training.
The antioxidants in chocolate can improve blood flow by expanding the arteries, which may enhance exercise performance and enable faster recovery from training. This hasn’t been demonstrated yet in the research, but it’s possible the active compounds in the cocoa bean could help reduce muscle soreness and improve replenishment of glycogen stores in the muscle.
#5: Reduces Blood Pressure.
A number of controlled trials show that dark chocolate consumption can reduce blood pressure a small but statistically significant amount.
#6: Makes You More Sensitive To Insulin. 
The antioxidants in dark chocolate appear to make the cells more sensitive to insulin, while favorably moderating fat and carbohydrate metabolism. The result is lower diabetes risk and a healthier metabolism.
#7: Improves Cholesterol Markers.
Dark chocolate improves cholesterol markers, which are key risk factors for heart disease. Studies show cocoa consumption increases the “good” HDL cholesterol, while reducing damage of the “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can harm arteries and lead to plaque buildup.
#8: Reduce Heart Disease Risk
The compounds in dark chocolate improve many of the key factors in cardiovascular function, including protecting the endothelium, which are the blood cells on the surface of blood vessels. Observational studies show dark chocolate consumption may reduce risk of heart disease by a very substantial 50 percent.
#9: Improve Brain Function. 
Besides the protective antioxidants, chocolate also contains the stimulants theobromine and caffeine, which improve cognition and may protect against neurodegeneration and diseases like Alzheimer’s. The one catch is that for significant mental improvements, a much higher dose of cocoa flavanols than can be achieved by eating chocolates is necessary.
#10: A Delicious Indulgence
Dark chocolate provides the compound phenlethylamine, a mood enhancer that may act as an antidepressant, increasing levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Plus, being able to indulge and know that you’re doing your body and health a favor can go a long way to freeing you from guilt and allowing you to take pride in your dietary choices.