Is there anything better than finding out that something you so deeply love, loves you back?
Yes, we’re talking about dark chocolate.
We’re here to tell you that next time you’re craving that dark chocolatey greatness, don't think twice.
Because dark chocolate is not only delicious and decadent, but it’s filled with INCREDIBLE health benefits. First and foremost, the majority of dark chocolate is lactose free. Yes, you heard it here first, folks. (Ok, maybe not first. but we’re pumped about it, nonetheless).
But before we dive into the health stuff, let’s start with the basics.
What make’s dark chocolate… dark chocolate?
It begins with a combination of cocoa, sugar and fat. Also known as semi-sweet chocolate. It’s important to know that anything with 70% cocoa or above is deemed “dark.”
What does dark chocolate taste like in comparison to milk chocolate?
Great question. The higher % of cocoa, the more bitter the chocolate gets. This is why sugar is generally added to dark chocolate, to balance out the bitterness and add some sweetness.
Need a new quarantine activity? (I’m guessing the answer is yes). Grab different % cocoa levels of dark chocolate and do a blind taste test to see what your taste buds can handle. Add a nice glass of red… put on a movie… oops sorry we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
But how can something so satisfying and tasty, actually be good for you?
Let’s take a look at the 5 health benefits of eating dark chocolate so we can end this argument once and for all:
Dark chocolate is a powerhouse of antioxidants. 30.1 milligrams per gram, to be exact. Rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, dark chocolate has the ability to fight cancer causing free radicals. Research has shown that dark chocolate can even have a higher amount of antioxidants than blueberries AND acai berries.
- Heart Health
Dark Chocolate contains a plant chemical called flavanols, and contains 2-3 times more flavanols than milk chocolate. Flavonoids support the production of nitric oxide and help relax your blood vessels, improve blood flow, and therefore, lower your blood pressure. That means less pressure on your heart!
- Brain Health
As mentioned above, flavanols (a class of flavonoids) are the real shining stars here, thanks to their ability to increase blood flow. This means more blood flow to your brain too, while moving toxins out faster. Flavonoids can even cross the blood-brain barrier, leading to improved attention and memory. How cool is that?
Inflammation is the leading cause of chronic pain and disease. What can we do to avoid that? Increase our intake of antioxidants by eating anti-inflammatory foods. And dark chocolate does just that, thanks to the dynamic duo, polyphenols and flavonoids.
I thought I was just telling myself that eating dark chocolate made me happy. But in a controlled clinical study, participants were given 40 grams of dark chocolate to eat every day for two weeks (sign me up). After those two weeks, the participants' stress levels were measured again and they actually showed significantly lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies. Yup. You can destress with dark.
SO, what does all of this information tell us?
We have to remember the saying, “everything in moderation.” This doesn’t obviously mean start consuming pounds of dark chocolate every day.
What it DOES mean, is that there are proven health benefits to eating or drinking dark chocolate. Some that improve brain function, fight cancer, and even protect your heart health.
Which leads to this amazing closing line:
Eat what makes your heart happy, literally and figuratively.
(**Quick disclaimer - There MAY be traces of dairy in dark chocolate via cross-contamination, as some factories use the same barrels to make milk chocolate as they do dark chocolate. Remember to always read the labels!)
The Slate Milk Squad
Written by Samantha Okrasinski, Contributing Author