The important thing to note first is that it's dark chocolate that has health benefits, not the super sweet, milk fat-laden milk chocolate version.
Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrition - the darker, the better
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains around:
- 11 grams of fibre
- 67% of the RDA for Iron
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium
- 89% of the RDA for Copper
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
However, you should approach it still as a 'sometimes food' as 100g of chocolate is still a sizeable amount and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants
Antioxidants do great work in disarming the free radicals that can pollute our bodies and attack otherwise healthy molecules and cocoa is loaded with them. In turn, dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, amongst others.
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Dark chocolate may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
Scientists have proven that the flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
Dark chocolate can help aid against heart disease
Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL (bad cholesterol) to oxidative damage while increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and improving insulin sensitivity.
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Further information via Authority Nutrition.