Dark chocolate has recently been discovered to have a number of healthy benefits. Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium to produce Nitric Oxide which sends signals to lower resistance to blood flow and therefore to reduce blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. This is reducing the risk of stroke, infarction and peripheral artery disease. Increasing blood flow to the brain dark chocolate can improve also cognitive function.
In a controlled trial, dark chocolate was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol. It can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Multiple observational studies show a drastic reduction in cardiovascular disease risk for the people who consume the dark chocolate.
“Nutrients are key components of health and disease. In the context of atherosclerosis, following an appropriate diet is crucial for reducing the burden of vascular disease. Eating such polyphenol-rich nutrients as dark chocolate leads to improved blood flow in the legs,” said Dr. Lorenzo Loffredo, the study’s lead author from Sapienza University in Rome.
- Dark chocolate may ease walking for patients with artery disease. 2014.
- Stephen J Crozier et al. Cacao seeds are a "Super Fruit": A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chemistry Central Journal 2011, 5:5 doi:10.1186/1752-153X-5-5
- Kris Gunnars 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. 2014.