Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Have you ever thought of chocolate as being good for you, health-wise? I suspect you wouldn't have. Most of us associate chocolate as being bad for us. In popular perception, chocolate is viewed as being a food that contributes towards weight gain. Being a high-fat, high-calorie food, that perception is not totally unjustified. The thing about perception though is that we miss the wider picture. That being that all chocolates are not the same, and therefore, not all chocolates are bad for your health. In fact, dark chocolate has been shown to have heart-healthy benefits. The two main benefits being its ability to lower blood pressure and lower LDL or bad cholesterol. Flavonoids present in dark chocolate have also been thought to have anti-cancer effects.

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What is Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate isn't your ordinary chocolate. It is known for its bittersweet taste and contains at least 70% cocoa or higher and contains very little sugar. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better its heart healthy benefits. Semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolates aren't the same thing and don't offer anywhere near the health benefits that dark chocolates offer.

Things such as chocolate candies contain lots of sugar and added additives and very less flavonoids and don't offer any health benefit to speak of. So, dark chocolate is very different than your normal chocolate candies or milk chocolates.

Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You?

The health benefits of dark chocolate come from flavonoids, which are antioxidants that are naturally present in many fruits and vegetables and also beverages like tea and wine. The good news, however, is that dark chocolate is one of the richest sources of flavonoids.

Antioxidants protect you by fighting against the damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules and have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Since dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, eating them offers you cardioprotective and anti-cancer benefits.

Research has also shown the effect of dark chocolate in reducing platelet activation, which is a step in clot formation. This of course may reduce one's risk of suffering strokes and heart attacks. Apart from these benefits, dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce stress.

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Quick Tips and Things to Watch for Before You Dig in to Your Dark Chocolate

We know by now that dark chocolate is good for you and your heart, but that doesn't mean you should go on a chocolate-eating binge. There are some things you need to watch out for,

  • Eat dark chocolate in moderation since it is high in calories and saturated fats. The recommended intake is up to 7 ounces per week or 1 ounce per day. Binging can result in weight gain, which would reverse any heart-healthy benefits you gain from eating it.
  • Do not mix dark chocolate with milk, as milk has been shown to hamper absorption of flavonoids/antioxidants by the body.
  • Maximize its heart-healthy benefits by mixing in other heart-friendly foods such as strawberries and blueberries. You can add in some nuts and dried fruits as well and create wonderful desserts.

So, what are you waiting for? Go dig in to your bar of dark chocolate. An ounce or two of dark chocolate a day may well keep the doctor away!

© 2011 Shil1978

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15 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

My first thought was, "Who cares why it's good for you, I don't need a reason to eat food this good." :) However, the info you share is great stuff with important tips to keep in mind...and I need the reminders. Thanks!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Quite right, RTalloni, that would have been my first thought as well :) We do need a bit of reminding every now and then though, as you say, and a reminder not to overdo it and binge. Glad you liked this hub - thank you for stopping by and commenting!!


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

My only problem, Shil, with eating chocolate, dark or otherwise, is confining it to only one or two ounces per day. Thanks for the fascinating details. I wrote a hub about chocolate, too - "Chocolate Benefits - Facts and Fun."


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Oh yes, drbj, that's the problem - isn't it :) I'd check out your hub - thanks for letting me know! Glad you found this hub fascinating. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments - always wonderful hearing from you!!


Lesleysherwood 5 years ago

Its so good you have promoted this 70% choc. I knew it was better than milk choc but not how good. Now I do thanks to yr hub. I remember when I first came across it. I found it hard to adjust as it is an acquired taste. But in the end I found that the MARS bars type chocolate tastes far too sweet, I call milk 'warm' chocolate now. A bit like 'warm' ice-cream opposed to expensive Haagen-~Dazs/Ben & Jerry etc


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 5 years ago Author

Yes, Lesley, it is an acquired taste. However, with all of its health benefits - there is no reason to ignore dark chocolate! Thank you for stopping by this hub and commenting :)


Diana McCalla 5 years ago

If you want to get all of the antioxidants in dark chocolate, you need to find a manufacturer that cold-presses the beans. No matter what the cacao content, if the beans are not handled properly most of the fragile antioxidants get destroyed. There is a great article on the difference between "good" chocolate and "bad" chocolate at cocoa101blog.com.


chrisam01 profile image

chrisam01 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California, USA

Just the picture alone made me drool. Informative and delish!


georgiecarlos profile image

georgiecarlos 4 years ago from Philippines

Really informative and at the same time, comprehensive-I feel like I read all the things I need to know about dark chocolate! :)


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

A really worthwhile and easy to read hub, Shil.

I have found out about the benefits of dark chocolate quite recently, by no article I have read has been as well constructed and illuminating as yours

Thank you.

I've always much preferred dark chocolate to milk chocolate, and maybe this is one of the contributing factors to my very good health.

But I promise you; I won't go on a binge!


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Thank you, Ian, for stopping by and offering me such high praise, which I am not sure I deserve, really!! It feels good nevertheless so I am not complaining :)

I am sure dark chocolate has contributed to your good health - I hope you continue to enjoy such good health all your life. I know you'd be disciplined :)

Thanks my friend for coming by my home and making me feel special. I enjoy your presence, as always!! I am sure you are doing quite well here, although I haven't been able to keep track of your progress of late!!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Shil, I am not writing very much, but I put it down to laziness.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Ian, am glad to give you company in your laziness :) I've been exceedingly lazy with respect to my writing. Presently, devoting my time to attending to the Hub Community needs, flagging hubs containing your pet peeve and helping newbies around!!

I sure hope though that you overcome your laziness - you have so much more to offer us all at HubPages, after all aren't you such a precious talent on here :)

I actually want more folks to discover you around here, so am going to be putting up a link to you on my profile page. You've written such wonderful material - it would give me much satisfaction to have many more hubbers and visitors to hubs discover your work!!


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

Shil, I am here, smiling and blushing like a Cheshire cat and just a little pink with embarrassment... and gratitude.

You are so lovely, and I couldn't start to say how happy and pleased I am to read your kind words.


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

Ian, you deserve much, much more. I hope you are more widely read and receive greater recognition for your wonderful work. Keep smiling my friend and writing as beautifully as you do :)

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