Not all chocolates are created equal (nutritionally that is). Milk chocolate, white chocolate, sweet chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolates all have some nutritional benefits, but dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Let’s take a savory look into the benefits of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is made from the seeds the cocoa tree. High quality dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants and minerals. Among the most beneficial is a flavonol called epicatechin. Flavonols are compounds found in plants that fight inflammation and protect against cell damage cause by free radicals. Iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and potassium are also found in dark chocolate which make dark chocolate a healthy snacking option.
Dark chocolate can improve blood flow in your arteries and cause a small, but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure. Dark chocolate may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
When purchasing dark chocolate, there are a few things that you should look for to ensure you are purchasing a nutritious version of this sweet treat.
1. Make sure that the dark chocolate you buy has at least 70% or higher cocoa content. Anything less and you are buying a product filled with added sugars and other additives. Cocoa should be the first ingredient listed on the nutritional information. The higher the cocoa content, the higher amounts of dietary fiber.
2. Dark chocolate is often flavored with spices, extracts, and oils to improve the flavor. If you go for the flavored chocolate, make sure it is organic to avoid any artificial additives.
3. High-quality dark chocolate shouldn’t have any milk added to it. Milk is often added to soften the chocolate and add flavor.
Keep in mind that even though there are vital nutrients and dietary fiber in dark chocolate, it is high in calories and is moderately high in sugar. Dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation, just like everything else that taste amazing.