Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?!
Shared by Dr. Bryan Stephens
I’ve been listening to a couple health oriented podcasts recently and came across a surprise healthy food. Both were on The School of Greatness podcast with Lewis Howse while he was interviewing 2 different nutrition experts. The food in question? Dark Chocolate! You read that right. They both explained the benefits of it and how it can help the immune system, our aging, and our inflammation. When I say dark chocolate, I’m not referring to the Hershey’s dark chocolate bar which only has about 45% cacao. I’m talking about those that have at least 70% cacao.
When the cacao is in high concentrations, you get the benefits of higher soluble fiber and high amounts of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. It also contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables including blueberries and acai berries! A major benefit of the antioxidant power of the cacao bean is its ability to keep LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from reacting to free radicals in the body. When LDL reacts with the free radicals, it becomes capable of damaging the vessels themselves. Another benefit to our blood vessels is the effect dark chocolate has on releasing nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide (NO) lies within the endothelium or lining of our blood vessels. When it is released, it causes our blood vessels to relax. Dark chocolate stimulates the endothelium to release the NO stored which then relaxes the vessels. This relaxation helps lower blood pressure and can help increase blood flow. This is true throughout the body, including the brain. A study even showed better cognitive function in older adults after consuming dark chocolate for 5 days.
Please bear in mind that I’m not telling you to go eat tons of dark chocolate. It still contains sugar which can cause inflammation in the body as well. It just happens that the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it usually contains. So next time go for at least 70% cacao when you’re reaching for a tasty treat with benefits!
Desideri G, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, Necozione S, Ghiadoni L, Mastroiacovo D, Raffaele A, Ferri L, Bocale R, Lechiara MC, Marini C, Ferri C. Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study. Hypertension. 2012 Sep;60(3):794-801. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.112.193060. Epub 2012 Aug 14. PMID: 22892813.
Dark Hot Cocoa
1 cup coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoons maple sugar
2 ounces dark chocolate (such as Moser Roth® 85% Dark Chocolate)
1 pinch ground cinnamon, or more to taste
Heat coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just before boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Add maple sugar and stir until dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir dark chocolate into milk until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir cinnamon into cocoa mixture.
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