What is the Impact of Dark Chocolate on Your Health?
Chocolate is not good for your health. This is what your parents have told you. That was a way to curb the consumption of excessive chocolate. However, the darker the bar, the more surprising benefits it could offer.
People who consume cacao more traditionally have gained benefits like no rise in blood pressure by age and low risk of cancer, strokes, heart attacks and diabetes, and premature death. Seeing such benefits of cacao beans, it seems as if dark chocolate is actually beneficial.
To prove the benefits and if there are any dark sides that scientists still do not know, researchers picked Kuna Indians for their study. They discovered that these people consumed at least four cups of cocoa with a small amount of sugar daily.
Yet, it was hard to ascribe these benefits to dark chocolate
Despite the consumption of a large amount of cocoa, researchers were unable to attribute the health benefits they gained to cocoa drinks. This is because fruits and fish were also a part of their diet. During the study, it was revealed that they were eating twice as much fruit and three times as much fish as the average British diet.
There lived more active lifestyles, which could have a significant role in keeping them trim, according to researchers. Another study on about 20,000 people revealed that daily consumption of 100gm of chocolate, including milk chocolate, is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
However, there could be other explanations for a lower risk than chocolate itself because participants were asked to control their smoking and improve their exercise levels.
Does that mean the benefit claims are just outlandish?
In a large trial where other possible causes like smoking and diet were controlled, it was found that these benefits boiled down to a compound called flavonoids. It is the same compound found in tea and berries, but it is in higher concentration in chocolate.
Here are the health benefits of dark chocolate:
It is a powerful source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential for your body as they fight against free radicals known for ageing cells and tissues. Studies have found that antioxidants neutralise the impact of free radicals on your body. They are rich in chocolate. However, they are also found in fruits and leafy vegetables.
Dark chocolate consists of organic compounds like flavonoids, polyphenols, and catechins. Polyphenols are commonly known for lowering bad cholesterol. One study has found that the number of antioxidants and polyphenols is higher than their levels in fruits and green vegetables.
It can lower down your blood pressure
One of the best advantages of flavonoids found in dark chocolate is that it improves blood flow to your organs and reduces blood pressure. Studies have found that people consuming a small bar of chocolate every day will significantly notice improved blood flow.
The flavonoid helps stimulate the lining of arteries to produce nitric oxide. When it is produced, your arteries are sent signals to relax. As a result, your blood flow improves, thereby reducing your blood pressure. However, many studies have found that these effects are going to be very mild.
One study revealed that not all people found these effects in the body after consuming a bar. Participants were patients with type II diabetes and high blood pressure. They showed no effect after consuming cocoa.
Researchers believe that people who are already on medication or treatment to lower their blood pressure level will experience no effect after adding cocoa to their diet.
It raises good cholesterol
Dark chocolate is also known to improve the risk of heart disease as it helps enhance good cholesterol levels. One study found that the consumption of dark chocolate can lower the LDL and triglycerides, the most common factors causing heart diseases.
Researchers have found that some forms of bad cholesterol are more likely to oxidise. After oxidisation, they themselves become capable of damaging tissues of your body, including the wall of arteries.
The consumption of dark chocolate is often recommended because it can prevent oxidation-prone bad cholesterol. Antioxidants found in cacao beans can protect you against oxidative damage. Flavonoids found in dark chocolate can improve insulin resistance, another common factor for increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
However, scientists still do not have evidence to prove it. The sugar found in dark chocolate can have the opposite impact.
It can prevent your skin from the sun damage
Compounds found in dark chocolate are also known to protect your skin from sun damage. Long-time sun exposure can damage your skin because of ultraviolet rays. Dark chocolate does not just fight against free radicals, which prevents skin ageing, but it also improves blood flow to your skin.
Studies have revealed that after consuming dark chocolates for at least 12 weeks, your skin will be able to cope with the damaging effects of UV rays.
Dark chocolates have dark sides too
Studies have found that flavonoids could be primarily responsible for improving the health of people, but you cannot ignore the dark side. The concentration of flavonoids can vary by brand as it depends on the processing during the manufacturing process.
Dark chocolate may have four times higher flavonoids than tea, but the amount may reduce during the manufacturing process. Even if they are added through a process, they will not make it a healthy food. Since different studies showed different results, researchers have yet to have a consensus about the benefits of flavonoids.
Another essential ingredient found in dark chocolate is saturated fat. It is found at higher levels, and therefore, it can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Saturated fats are also known for increasing LDL, another factor to cause cardiovascular problems.
Fats in chocolate come from cocoa butter, and one-third of them are saturated fats. Therefore, it could be deleterious to your health despite the presence of stearic acid known to offset the impact of LDL.
Should you completely give up the consumption of dark chocolate?
Even if you are health conscious, you do not need to give up dark chocolate. A small amount is not harmful to your body. Even though it is high in saturated fats and sugar, you are not prone to cardiovascular diseases with a small bar.
Although studies have proved that the flavonoid compound is mainly responsible for some health benefits, no study has demonstrated that this is the only factor in improving your health. Your lifestyle matters a lot to stay fit and fine.
It is not just a rich diet of fruits, vegetables, and exercise that keeps you healthy but how successfully you manage your stress level. For instance, you will likely be stressed out during a job loss. Not only do you have to find a job as soon as possible, but you also have to find a way to get rid of loans for the unemployed for bad credit.
How you tackle daily situations to control your stress also determines your health.
The final comment
Dark chocolate is not that bad as long as you consume it in a very small amount. However, excess consumption can cause some health risks like cardiovascular problems and type II diabetes.