The Bitter Truth: Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?
By Kate Gardner
I like dark chocolate. At least, I think I like it. I was raised on the sweeter stuff -- milk chocolate. While I embrace the idea that dark chocolate can be good for you, I haven't always loved milk chocolate's more bitter sibling. I admit that I choose my chocolate more for taste than health, but much of the allure of dark chocolate lies in its health benefits. Let's find out more about dark chocolate and see why it works!
What Is Dark Chocolate?
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, dark chocolate has been around for a very long time. Around 2000 B.C., the Maya of Central America used the bitter stuff in various drinks. Dark chocolate comes from the bean inside cacao pods. Once it has been processed, dark chocolate contains between 50 to 90 percent cocoa solids, cocoa butters, and sugars. In comparison, milk chocolate only contains between 10 to 50 percent cocoa solids, cocoa butters, and sugars. This is important because it is these cocoa solids, cocoa butters, and sugars that give dark chocolate its healthy benefits.
Why Is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
Dark chocolate is full of cocoa flavanols. Among other things, these flavanols help with a process that relaxes your blood vessels. This can, in turn, lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains two to three more flavanols than milk chocolate. Other studies have connected eating dark chocolate every day with a decreased risk of heart disease and mortality (dying).
How Much Do You Need?
Don't get too excited! While dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate, it still has plenty of fat and calories and it is possible to eat too much. Studies have shown that only a small amount of dark chocolate needs to be consumed in order to reap the benefits. Six grams (one to two squares) per day has been linked to better health outcomes.
These days, dark chocolate can be found just about anywhere that sells chocolate. To get the most out of your healthy chocolate treat, look for packages that say 70 percent dark chocolate or higher. If eating dark chocolate straight isn't your thing, the internet has plenty of suggestions on ways to mix it with other healthy foods to make it more palatable.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Atlanta, Ga.