Who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s everyone’s weakness and has quite the reputation for being something that you should stay away from for being “too sweet” or “too high in calories,” but does that mean all chocolate is bad?
Enter dark chocolate, the “mature” candy with a bold, often-bitter taste. It was first consumed by the Maya in Central America as a fermented drink, but now it is perhaps one of the world’s favorite flavors. Lucky for chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is not as much of a “cheat” as we thought. With less sugar and butter and a higher percentage of cocoa, it actually is packed with benefits.
Dark chocolate is made from the cacao bean, and it is a great source of antioxidants. The beans are full of compounds like polyphenols, flavanols and catechins that act as antioxidants, according to Healthline. Healthline also reports that,“One study showed that cacao and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries
and acai berries.” This is important because we need antioxidants to protect our cells from damage and to boost our immune systems.
Studies have also found that the flavanols in dark chocolate protect against heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports that these flavanols support the production of nitric oxide in the inner cell lining of the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Dark chocolate, in addition to its health benefits, is versatile. It can be used in so many delicious recipes for pastries, granola bars, cereals, truffles and frozen desserts, and its slightly bitter aftertaste mixes well with salty foods. So, next time you are craving something sweet, but maybe don’t need the calories and sugar from that candy bar, have a bite of dark chocolate!
BY STEPHANIE CORNWELL