Dark chocolate is good for your heart
11/09/2018 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

Chocolates are a guilty pleasure for many people around the world, but there's nothing to feel bad about if you're eating the right kind. Milk chocolate is the type that most people eat, but it is dark chocolate that is better for your health. The latter contains less sugar and is rich in beneficial nutrients, which is why many people now consider it to be a superfood. The darker the chocolate, the better it is for your health since this means that it has more cocoa and, therefore, more nutrients. One of the organs that greatly benefit from eating dark chocolate is the heart.

Over the years, evidence has built up proving that dark chocolate is good for the heart. One of the most common observations that researchers have is that it is rich in antioxidants like flavonols, polyphenols, and catechins. A previous study revealed that dark chocolate contains more of these phytochemicals than renowned antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries and acai berries. These compounds effectively neutralize harmful free radicals that inflict damage on the heart and other organs. Moreover, antioxidants also reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

Different compounds in dark chocolate, like epicatechin and cyclostatin, also work to improve blood flow by stimulating the arteries to relax and preventing plaques from forming in blood vessels. Because of this, the different parts of the body receive sufficient amounts of nutrients and oxygen for them to function properly. This also prevents blood pressure from building up by releasing small amounts of it at a time. Minerals found in dark chocolate, which include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium, also regulate blood pressure.

Dark chocolate has higher cocoa content compared to milk chocolate, so it also has higher concentrations of cocoa butter. Although this naturally occurring product is rich in saturated fats like stearic acid, it does not increase cholesterol levels. This is because saturated fats are rapidly converted to the monounsaturated fat oleic acid. In addition, dark chocolate is also rich in fibers that also lower cholesterol levels. These nutrients work together to reduce the risk of diseases associated with high cholesterol like coronary heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, and high blood pressure. Based on previous studies, one week of eating dark chocolate is already enough to improve lipid profiles.

Other health benefits of dark chocolate

The heart isn't the only organ that benefits from eating dark chocolate. Other health benefits of including this in your diet include the following:

  • Protecting the skin from the sun -- Flavonols in dark chocolate prevent skin damage by improving blood flow to the skin and keeping it hydrated. One study showed that people who eat dark chocolates are less vulnerable to ultraviolet rays so if you want to go to the beach start preparing for it by eating more dark chocolate.
  • Improving brain function -- Eating dark chocolates improve brain function since it allows enough blood to travel to the brain. This food also has stimulants like caffeine and theobromine that cause short-term improvements in brain function. Moreover, cocoa was observed to improve verbal fluency and cognitive function in elderly people with neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Reducing cancer risk -- The main contributors to cancer development are chronic inflammation and DNA mutations. Fortunately, compounds in dark chocolate are effective in preventing DNA damage and reducing inflammation.

Dark chocolates are associated with so many health benefits, unlike milk chocolate, so you can eat more of it without feeling any guilt. (Related: Dark chocolate is brimming with antioxidants and heart-healthy properties, research finds.)

For more articles about improving heart health, visit Heart.news.

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