Dark Chocolate is Medicine
For many people, chocolate is a guilty pleasure, something to indulge in only on special occasions or when in need of a pick-me-up. But did you know that dark chocolate, in particular, has a range of proven therapeutic health benefits that make it more than just a tasty treat? That's right - dark chocolate (85%+) can be considered a form of medicine, offering a variety of benefits that can help keep your body healthy and functioning at its best. This is exactly why we have added dark chocolate to our Detox approved foods list!
Let’s learn more about the incredible therapeutic health benefits of this plant medicine. But first, it’s important to know more about where this beautiful food comes from…
Chocolate has a fascinating origin story that spans centuries and continents. The story begins in Central and South America, where the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations revered chocolate as a sacred food, reserved for the elite and used in religious ceremonies. The cocoa beans used to make chocolate were so valuable that they were even used as a form of currency. It wasn't until the 16th century that chocolate made its way to Europe, where it was initially consumed as a bitter drink. Over time, chocolate became sweeter and more accessible, eventually evolving into the delicious treat that we know and love today. Despite its global popularity, chocolate still maintains its connection to its rich and storied history, making it a truly unique and special indulgence.
Therapeutic benefits of dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate is more than just a tasty treat - it also has a range of proven health benefits that make it a great addition to any diet. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, improve heart health, and even reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, the compounds in dark chocolate can boost mood and cognitive function, making it a great addition to your week and life!
One of the key benefits of dark chocolate is its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals in the body, which can cause oxidative stress and damage to cells. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, a type of antioxidant that has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health, as well as potentially reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
One study found that the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate was up to three times higher than that of green tea. Additionally, research has shown that a single serving of dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables, including apples, blueberries, and kale. While these foods are still important for overall health, the high antioxidant content of dark chocolate makes it an incredibly valuable addition to any diet.
Improved Heart Health
Dark chocolate has also been shown to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. Studies have found that regular consumption of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and lower the risk of heart disease. This is due in part to the flavanols in dark chocolate, which have been shown to improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk of blood clots.
Several studies have shown that consuming dark chocolate can have a positive effect on heart health. Speccifically, research has found that eating dark chocolate reduced the risk of developing heart disease by as much as 37%.
In addition to its physical health benefits, dark chocolate may also have a positive impact on mood. Chocolate contains several compounds that can affect brain chemistry, including caffeine, theobromine, and phenylethylamine. These compounds can help to boost mood, increase feelings of well-being, and even reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Research has found that dark chocolate consumption in individuals with clinical depression experienced a 70% reduction in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores after eight weeks of daily dark chocolate consumption.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Believe it or not, regular consumption of dark chocolate may also help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study found that people who ate dark chocolate more than once a week had a lower risk of developing diabetes than those who ate it less frequently. This may be due in part to the fact that dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
Several studies have investigated the relationship between dark chocolate consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One meta-analysis of 19 studies found that consuming dark chocolate was associated with a 31% reduced risk of developing diabetes.
Improved Cognitive Function
Finally, dark chocolate may also have a positive impact on cognitive function. Studies have found that regular consumption of dark chocolate can improve memory, focus, and attention, as well as reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Again, this is likely due to the flavanols in dark chocolate, which have been shown to have a positive effect on brain function.
Research has found that consuming dark chocolate improved attention and reaction time in individuals with sleep deprivation. Specifically, the study reported a 10% improvement in reaction time and a 16% improvement in attention after consuming dark chocolate. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that daily consumption of high-flavanol cocoa for eight weeks improved cognitive function and blood pressure in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Specifically, the study reported a 30% improvement in verbal fluency and a 40% improvement in a test of visual-spatial memory after consuming high-flavanol cocoa.
Some studies have suggested that there may be a link between dark chocolate consumption and longevity, likely as a byproduct of all the of health benefits we have covered previously. One large-scale study published in the British Medical Journal found that individuals who consumed the most dark chocolate had a 14% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who consumed the least chocolate. Another study published in the journal Heart found that daily chocolate consumption was associated with a 25% lower risk of death from any cause and a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However, it's important to note that these studies do not prove causation, and more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between dark chocolate intake and longevity.
How Much Dark Chocolate Should You Eat?
So, now that you know about all the amazing benefits of dark chocolate, you might be wondering how much you should be eating to reap the rewards. The good news is that you don't have to eat a ton of dark chocolate to see the benefits - in fact, a small amount can go a long way! Based on the quantity and quality of dark chocolate studied, aim for about 50g of dark chocolate, at least 85% cacao, per week. Be sure to choose high-quality dark chocolate that contains at least 85% cocoa solids, as this will provide the greatest health benefits. During our SBN Detoxes, 2 squares of dark chocolate (minimum 85% cacao) is approved per week.
Dark chocolate can be a delicious addition to your diet for both its mouth-watering taste, and its range of highly desirable therapeutic health benefits. So go ahead and enjoy some dark chocolate in your week (85%+)- your body (and your taste buds) will thank you!