If you needed another reason to eat dark chocolate, don't fret, there are many! Dark chocolate contains an array of nutritional benefits and feel-good components. Dark is usually considered to be at least 50% cacao solids, to 100% cacao. When chocolate is higher in cacao and lower in filler ingredients like sugar and milk, a variety of health benefits present themselves. It's is rich in flavanols, antioxidants and contains unique compounds like theobromine.
Flavanols are polyphenols that support and provide benefits for healthy blood flow and reduce our risk of heart problems. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation, aka free radical damage, which prevents cell damage within the body, keeping us young and healthy. And theobromine is slightly similar to caffeine, as it does act as a mild stimulant in the body and provides natural energy. In addition it has been shown theobromine can help lower blood pressure, increase good cholesterol, act as an anti-inflammatory and improve cognitive function. Are you convinced yet?
Some of the longest lived people on record, claim chocolate to be one of their best kept secrets of youth. Jeanne Clement, a french woman who passed at the age 122, said she ate nearly two pounds of very dark chocolate a week. The neuroscience Institute of San Diego discovered that chocolate contains the feel-good chemical, anandamide. This chemical is responsible for the "chocolate high" and results in a calming effect on the body and possibly even lowers stress hormones! Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a substance called the “love molecule” that simulates the feeling of being in love. All the feels.
As with anything, the quality of ingredients will always make a difference in the nutritional benefits received from our foods. It's important to select chocolate that has been grown in nutritionally dense soil, usually this means buying sustainable chocolate and avoiding bigger commercial that are using poorly grown, cheap bulk cacao. Lots of smaller farmers are working hard to get more involved with growing cacao more in harmony with nature, which in turn, produces more interesting flavors and you guessed it, more nutritional value! Choosing chocolate with minimal ingredients and higher percentages of cacao will also help to receive the above mentioned advantages. These are just a handful of reasons to eat a little more chocolate, so go on, crack that bar!