February 1st was National Dark Chocolate Day. ICYMI, don’t worry! There are plenty of reasons to eat dark chocolate on the daily all month long. Yes, you read that right—daily! Moderation is encouraged (about 1-2 ounces per day) but this small amount is enough to get all the nutritional benefits you need. You may find that it’s just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, too!
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, making it a total superfood. But it’s important to note that most chocolate we see on store shelves is not nutritious or even real chocolate at all. So always check your labels and don't let those impostors fool you!
Real dark chocolate contains phytonutrients called flavonoids, which are plant chemicals that act as antioxidants. They are known to play a huge role in heart health and the prevention of cancer.
The cacao plant that chocolate is derived from also contains a compound called theobromine, which can reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. In fact, research has shown that eating dark chocolate even once per week is associated with a lower risk of blocked arteries.
If that’s not enough to convince you to add this superfood into your daily routine, studies show that having dark chocolate in moderation can improve how the body metabolizes glucose, and ultimately help prevent diabetes. With essential nutrients such as fiber, potassium, calcium and magnesium, dark chocolate has plenty of additional benefits that are worth noting below.
- Improves Cognition and Prevents Memory Loss- dark chocolate increases neuroplasticity in the brain, which has positive effects on memory, cognition and mood.
- Good for Your Skin- minerals in dark chocolate are beneficial for your skin. Manganese, for instance, supports the production of collagen.
- Lowers the Risk of Stroke- flavonoids are responsible for producing nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to relax and blood pressure to lower.
- Gut Health and Digestion- the fiber in dark chocolate acts as a prebiotic and encourages the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut.
So, if you do decide that a daily dose of dark chocolate is something you’ll add to your routine, remember to always check your labels! As always, the fewer the ingredients, the better. Since dark chocolate is so rich, many find that a small amount is all it takes to satisfy a sweet tooth. Luckily for us, that’s all it takes to reap the benefits!