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A Reason to Smile: What’s So Great About Dark Chocolate

  • JatinB 

What makes chocolate so great? It’s not just that it tastes good, although that’s definitely part of it. Dark chocolate in particular has many health benefits – enough to put a smile on your face! But if you’re looking to start incorporating more dark chocolate into your diet, the best place to start is understanding the benefits. Here are just a few ways dark chocolate can make you happier and healthier overall

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids

dark chocolate is rich in a class of plant-based chemicals called flavonoids. These compounds may help combat everything from bacterial infections to heart disease and brain function, according to research published in journals such as Food Chemistry , BioFactors , and Life Sciences. Flavonoids can also inhibit cell proliferation (important for cancer risk reduction) and boost anti-inflammatory properties.

The specific type of flavonoid in dark chocolate is called epicatechin, which also gets a lot of attention for potential benefits against diabetes. Research on that relationship indicates that epicatechin supports insulin sensitivity by stimulating production of nitric oxide — a gas molecule essential for many cellular functions — including those related to glucose transport.

Studies show beneficial heart effects

The study published in The FASEB Journal demonstrated that dark chocolate significantly improved coronary circulation and flow-mediated dilation, which are related to heart health. This may be a result of compounds called flavonoids found in cocoa. Flavonoids have been shown to improve blood flow through vasodilation and anti-inflammatory effects, according to Harvard Health Publications.

In particular, the flavonoid epicatechin has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory benefits and may play a role in reducing risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. The polyphenols also lower bad LDL cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol levels.

Antioxidants are found abundantly in dark chocolate

Antioxidants fight against cancer, arthritis, and heart disease by neutralizing free radicals. Many people are surprised that chocolate is full of antioxidants. Of course, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate because it has less sugar and dairy content.

While a lot of research has been done on cocoa’s ability to fight heart disease and cancer, there hasn’t been a lot of research on cocoa’s effect on fighting aging—something most people can appreciate! After all, who wouldn’t like to live a little longer? So if you have some dark chocolate sitting around (and who doesn’t?), consider eating it for your health! And don’t forget about its ability to help with brain function.

Flavonoids can protect against cancer cells

One of dark chocolate’s most impressive benefits is how it can work with our immune system to slow down and prevent cancer cells from proliferating. Studies show that certain flavonoids contained in dark chocolate, as well as tea, coffee, red wine and other fruits and vegetables containing them, may be responsible for preventing cancerous tumors from forming.

The antioxidant properties of flavonoids also seem to play a role in their anti-cancer effects by directly attacking free radicals before they have a chance to damage healthy cells or DNA. It takes about a year for an average person to metabolize one cup of cocoa — about 2.2 pounds — into small amounts of flavonoids; however, consuming even small amounts on a regular basis can help protect you against developing cancer in later years.