Health experts agree that the cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This is particularly important if you have high cholesterol. In addition, the flavanols increase the amount of beneficial polyphenols, like resveratrol, found in dark chocolate.
Two of the health benefits are "heart healthy"mental clarity." These are not the only health benefits, however. There are many other beneficial ingredients to be found in dark chocolate that make it a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins.
Cocoa beans contain large amounts of these nutrients, making it a rich source of antioxidants. In addition, the flavanols found in dark chocolate increase the amount of polyphenols found in foods. Polyphenols help increase brain function, improve cognitive ability, and lower blood pressure. Potassium is important for muscle function, blood pressure regulation, heart function, and nerve function.
Cacao also contains dietary fiber. Fiber can help reduce weight by lowering our appetite and increasing energy. It also improves bowel function.
On average, people with a good amount of fiber in their diet have a 50% lower risk of developing colon cancer. Also, fiber is vital to good digestive health. If you have digestive problems, especially a sensitivity to gas, you may be at risk for digestive problems if you eat foods with a high content of fiber.
Small amount of cacao is also rich in potassium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure. Drinking about one to two cups of chocolate per day can help maintain normal blood pressure and relax your blood vessels.
Magnesium and iron are also beneficial to your health. Magnesium helps keep the muscles in the stomach relaxed, which reduces the tendency for food to stay in the stomach longer. Iron helps make red blood cells, a building block of new blood, strong and prevents the oxidation of hemoglobin.
Cacao has more of this nutrient than any other food. This means that any time you eat dark chocolate, the nutrients will be better absorbed by your body.
Like other nuts, cacao contains the enzyme called butyric acid. Butyric acid helps reduce the likelihood of colon cancer.
Most dark chocolate contains high amounts of sodium. It is important to avoid processed or pre-packaged candy, as many of them contain added sugar, preservatives, or artificial flavorings. Instead, choose a sugar free dark chocolate bar or a cocoa bean.
Another factor that affects the nutritional value of dark chocolate is its chocolate liquor. The liquor is naturally sweetened with molasses, and many varieties are made with agave nectar, agave syrup, honey, cane sugar, and dried fruit.
To be sure that you're getting all the nutritional benefits from dark chocolate, choose dark chocolate bars that have cocoa butter or cocoa solids. These have more healthful ingredients and are less likely to have artificial flavorings and other additives.