The properties of dark chocolate they have always been associated with good heart health and a high antioxidant content. The more contained in cocoa and natural compounds, the more attractive to health, although you always have to look at its caloric content and even the amount of milk it can carry.
Therefore, we wanted to gather the main scientific resources available where we talk about the benefits of dark chocolate for health. Of course not all types of this food are worth, you have to meet a series of requirements that we are going to list below.
Properties of dark chocolate according to its origin
The origin and manufacture of dark chocolate is important when establishing or assessing the quality and its potential for our health.
This food is produced when, starting from cocoa, it is mixed with different percentages of fat and sugar. It is distinguished from white or milk chocolate because it does not contain fat from dairy products, and therefore has an added value for health.
Any product that contains a percentage more than 70% cocoa it is already considered as dark chocolate, and is one of the premises on which most scientific studies have been based on it.
The first thing that comes to mind of this food is the antioxidant potential of cocoa, and it is not for less when we name, a little later, the main antioxidant groups present and their benefits against heart disease, brain health or prevention of serious diseases.
Optimal percentage of cocoa
If we visit the supermarket we will find a wide variety of different mixtures and concentrations. The properties of dark chocolate increase the higher the cocoa content it has. At least, it must be in a content greater than 70%, even if that causes the bitterness to increase.
Some premises when looking for the best relationship of this type of chocolate:
- High percentage of cocoa: at least 70% content.
- As natural as possible: no added sugars, trans fats, milk or artificial flavorings.
- Avoid processed chocolate
There are no scientific results that corroborate an increase in the properties of dark chocolate with respect to whether the origin is
Good nutritional balance
One of the properties of dark chocolate at a nutritional level is its good relationship in fiber and minerals.
At the level of fiber, 100 grams of dark chocolate provides 11 grams, a very interesting amount considering that the majority of the Western population has a diet deficient in fiber.
In addition, as a mineral supplement, it provides very high amounts of iron (67% RDA), magnesium (58% RDA), copper (89% RDA) and manganese (98% RDA), among others.
In smaller amounts, but important presence, we also find potassium (very common in almost all fruits and seeds), phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
One of the problems it entails is its high caloric intake, although it is considered a moderate food. It offers a very positive fatty acid profile, although with a high amount of saturated fats.
Important source of antioxidants
The antioxidant activity of a product can be measured based on its ability to absorb oxygenated radicals.
From this, a potential antioxidant effect in dark chocolate has been scientifically demonstrated.
As we also saw in the properties of coffee, there is a high concentration of flavonoids, catechins and polyphenols in pure cocoa.
In fact, there are several scientific studies where they mention that cocoa has a better antioxidant profile than any other fruit, including very interesting berries such as blueberries.
Regulates blood pressure
The presence of flavonoids and flavanols is very interesting since it is known from the medical point of view that it favors and regulates blood pressure.
This natural compound present in cocoa, favors the resistance of the endothelium (wall or arterial lining) and the production of nitric oxide, related to greater cardiovascular health. [See study]
This activity is related to the medium and long-term reduction of blood pressure, as well as an improvement in blood circulation.
However, not all scientific trials have obtained positive results, as there are some that did not show significant differences and, therefore, effect on blood pressure
Increases good cholesterol
The improvement of the cardiovascular health it is also linked to the cholesterol control considered as good, or HDL.
Among the benefits of dark chocolate is to increase HDL levels and in turn, on the contrary, reduce bad cholesterol or LDL. [See information]
Have a significantly lower concentration of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream offers enormous advantages in the prevention of heart disease.
One advanced clinical trial subjected 470 elderly men to the daily consumption of cocoa, obtaining a reduction of up to 50% in the risk of suffering any type of disease linked to the heart. [See study]
Other tests carried out in different Western countries also confirm a positive effect on the reduction of the formation of calcified plaque in the arteries, with a decrease of 32% when consuming ounces of chocolate 2 or 3 times a week.
The best protective advantages of the circulatory system and heart are obtained by eating a small amount of dark chocolate at least 5 times a week (up to 57% reduction in diseases).
Strengthens skin health
From the first instance, it can be thought that the properties of dark chocolate have no effect on the skin, since it is not applied topically (ignoring the skin treatments with chocolate of some Spas).
However, it has been shown that the bioactive compounds present in chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa favors the reduction of sun damage to the skin, increasing its hydration capacity.
This property is awarded to your flavonol content, which offer antioxidant activity against oxidative damage.