Apples, carrots, and broccoli are indisputably nutritious foods. Packed with vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and other essentials, they’re excellent additions to almost anyone’s diet. Other foods, like dark chocolate, arouse suspicion when it comes to healthy eating. Is dark chocolate good for you? Even if you’ve heard that chocolate has nutritional benefits, you may have doubted that something so delicious could benefit your health as well. So let’s look at the facts! Who wouldn’t like an excuse to eat more chocolate?
Is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
As with many questions regarding food and health, there isn’t a simple answer to the question, “Is dark chocolate good for you?”
While dark chocolate provides some health benefits, it is also high in calories and sugar. Nutritionists will never advise that you eat an entire bar of chocolate at once, but if you have a sweet tooth, you may wish to incorporate small portions into your diet. When compared with some other sweets (like cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, and candy bars), dark chocolate is preferable because it isn’t just a sweet treat – it also offers some health benefits. But you shouldn’t be eating dark chocolate because you think it’s good for you, you should only be eating it (in moderation!) if you like it.
That said, the following are some of the potential health benefits of dark chocolate . . .
It is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
Over half of dark chocolate (50 to 90 percent) is composed of cocoa solids. Those cocoa solids contain a high amount of dietary flavonoids, especially the subtype known as flavanols. According to the American Heart Association, consuming a high amount of these antioxidants has been linked with a lower risk of coronary heart disease. However, the data is a bit thin on this point. Dark chocolate may not contain enough flavanols to produce a significant health benefit.
It may lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity.
According to an article published by the Harvard School of Public Health, some research has shown that flavanols help relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow, which lowers blood pressure. Some studies have also demonstrated that flavanols in dark chocolate increase insulin sensitivity, which may reduce a person’s risk of diabetes in the long run. As with the previous point, research has not definitively proven that there are enough flavanols in dark chocolate to produce these advantages.
It provides several other beneficial nutrients.
In addition to flavanols, dark chocolate is rich in iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous (source). Does this mean that dark chocolate is an ideal source of these vitamins and minerals? Of course not. If you’re simply looking to improve your health, you would be better off eating kale, but if you’re craving a sweet treat, you could do worse than dark chocolate.
When it comes to nutritional research, the media often exaggerates health findings and omits key details, so take those flashy headlines with a grain of salt. Dark chocolate may have some health benefits due to its flavanols, but it likely doesn’t have enough flavanols to significantly improve your health. More research is needed. If you like the taste of dark chocolate, enjoy it occasionally in small portions, but don’t think of it as a health food.
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