Dark Chocolate- the feel good medicine

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Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Studies show that dark chocolate can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 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.

But a 100 gram bar also contains 600 calories- so easy does it.

It is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which  included blueberries and Acai berries.

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide, which is a gas. One of the functions of Nitric Oxide is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. There are many controlled studies showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild.

Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease. Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short term.

Be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is crap. You need to choose quality stuff… organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Dark chocolates often contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain. Oh and one less detail- it tastes great!

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