Is chocolate good for you? It’s been around for about three thousand years, and yes, it does have health benefits. But before you run out and buy the largest chocolate ice cream cone you can find, we should preface this report by saying: Not all chocolate is created equal!
Dark chocolate is by far the healthiest choice. It is the closest to the natural cacao bean of any chocolate treat you’ll find in your grocery store, and we all know that natural is better. Milk chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate flavored goods are all more processed than dark chocolate and therefore more likely to contain components that aren’t good for you.
Chocolate donuts, candy bars (unless they are dark chocolate without all of the “extras”), chocolate cake, ice cream, and any other highly-processed chocolate products won’t likely deliver many health benefits. But dark chocolate can.
Is Chocolate Good for You?
So now that we have answered the question to ‘is chocolate good for you’, here are just some of the health benefits of chocolate:
Improved Heart Health
A little piece of dark chocolate everyday can reduce the risk of heart disease. According to an Italian study originally published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that 6.7 grams of chocolate a day can reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease.
Lower Diabetes Risk
Another Italian study (maybe the Italians are on to something), published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that short term consumption of dark chocolate results in increased insulin sensitivity. The participants ate a moderate amount of dark chocolate each day for 15 days and researchers found their potential for insulin resistance dropped by about half.
Dark chocolate can increase blood flow to the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, and even increase skin density and hydration, according to a 2006 study in The Journal of Nutrition. Participants also noticed less sun damage , and decreased roughness when compared with the control group not on a steady dose of chocolate.
Reduced Risk of Stroke
Swedish scientists found that women who had the highest consumption of chocolate (about two bars a week) had a 20% lower risk of stroke. Although the study was exciting, scientists caution the same benefits could be achieved through high intake of other forms of antioxidant rich foods and cautioned against adding two candy bars a week to your diet.
Chocolate Improves Mood!
Okay, we didn’t need a scientist to tell us this, but a study did confirm what many of us already knew—that chocolate eaters had lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies after consuming dark chocolate.
In order to get the deliciously sweet and slightly bitter dark chocolate that you find on the shelves, the cacao bean is processed with fats and sugars, among other things. So even though there are great benefits to chocolate consumption, moderation is still key. A small square or two of high-quality dark chocolate every day should be enough to reap the benefits when paired with an otherwise healthy diet.
Is chocolate good for you? Yes!