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Sweet Indulgence: Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Often times, things that are good for us are not overly appealing. Sure, spinach and flaxseed are good for you, but most of us don’t crave these super foods. One food stands out as a tempting exception to this rule though. Dark chocolate manages to be both decadent and good for you. Research has shown that this rich, indulgent treat actually comes with a hefty list of health perks. So the next time you want to satisfy that sweet tooth, reach for the dark chocolate knowing that you are doing something good for your taste buds and your body!

  1. Top Source of Antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect the cells in your body from damage done by free radicals. Dark chocolate has been ranked as one of the best sources of antioxidants. A diet high in antioxidants is credited with everything from preventing disease to slowing the effects of aging!
  2. Better Heart Health. Because of the flavonoids found in dark chocolate it has been shown to help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Dark chocolate consumption is linked with a decreased rate of heart disease. One study showed that consuming dark chocolate five times per week could lower the risk of heart disease by over 50 percent.
  3. Helps Lower Blood Pressure. Compounds found in dark chocolate also help to relax blood vessels. This relaxing helps blood to flow better to all parts of the body and decrease blood pressure levels which decreases stress and strain on your veins.
  4. Nutrient Dense. While the antioxidants in dark chocolate are definitely noteworthy, its nutritional prowess does not end there. Dark chocolate also provides notable amounts of iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, fiber, potassium, and more.
  5. Brain Power. Dark chocolate has also been shown to help improve brain function. Not only does dark chocolate protect brain cells, but the improved blood flow it is responsible for is also a boost to brain power.
  6. Blood Sugar Friendly. Unlike many other desserts, dark chocolate actually has a relatively low glycemic index (GI) number. This mean that your blood sugar levels stay stable, thus helping you avoid the energy crashes and inflammation caused by blood sugar spikes.

The Fine Print: Before you happily decide to make your next meal consist solely of dark chocolate (yum!), keep these caveats in mind. Any dark chocolate you choose needs to have a high cacao content (at least 80 percent) to reap maximum benefit. This is because it is the cacao content that offers all of the above health benefits. Chocolates with lower cacao percentages do not offer as many benefits and also have higher sugar levels. Additionally, remember that while dark chocolate does offer notable benefits, it is still calorie-dense and should still be regarded as a treat food.  Keep serving sizes to about two small squares to avoid overindulging and enjoy!

(I’ve got more great dessert suggestions in my Eat Away Obesity guide….download it for FREE!)

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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