9 Amazing Health And Beauty Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Unlike your garden variety sugar-filled chocolate, dark chocolate is derived from cacao beans, and contains a higher concentration of cacao seeds than regular milk chocolate. This gives the sweet a slight bitter taste, but if you can get past that, you’ll gain numerous amazing benefits in health and beauty.

Dark chocolate is a delectable dessert that is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your well-being.

1. Dark chocolate is skin friendly: Despite the long-held belief that chocolate causes acne and the likes, dark chocolate actually helps to maintain a healthy skin. The sweet is packed with a high number of antioxidants, which protects the skin from free radical damage and keeps it soft and supple.

With the presence of antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, and others, eating dark chocolate regularly also helps to keep your skin moist and well nourished, providing you with a smooth complexion. Additionally, because of its richness in antioxidants, dark chocolate can help to fight free radicals that cause oxidative damage to skin cells, therefore it helps to slow down the aging process.

2. Dark Chocolate offers sun protection: The flavonols in the cacao dessert was found to have sun-protecting prowess. London researchers noted that after three months of eating dark chocolate, the skin of the subjects being studied took twice as long to show the reddening effects of sunburn.

3. Dark chocolate for weight loss: A study from the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is highly filling and lessens the cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

4. Dark chocolate is a stress buster: In a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research it was found that the daily consumption of 40 grams (about 1.4 ounces) of dark chocolate for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines, which is the fight-or-flight hormones.

With the reduction of stress, you can not only have fewer wrinkles through the breakdown of collagen, but also glowing skin.

5. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure: Dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as magnesium, copper, potassium and iron. While magnesium helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, iron protects against anemia. And copper and potassium work to avert cardiovascular complications.

6. Dark chocolate for stroke prevention and a better heart: a seven-study meta-analysis found that chocolate consumption, specifically the dark unprocessed raw cacao kind, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It was found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in chocolate can considerably lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.

The study noted that the highest levels of chocolate consumption helped to reduce cardiovascular disease by 37 per cent, and with the lowest levels, stroke was reduced by 29 per cent. Because dark chocolate, like aspirin, has a biochemical effect that can reduce the occurrence of a heart attack, eating small amounts of the sweet can help to lower your chances of this critical heart problem.

7. Dark Chocolate can boost brain power: Studies have shown that regularly eating dark chocolate helps with memory performance and developing problem solving skills.

8. Dark chocolate for better teeth: Despite its seeming contradiction, this sweet can actually be beneficial to your teeth. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been proven to eliminate bacteria and prevent tooth decay. Note, however, that proper dental hygiene must be practiced to maintain healthy teeth and gum.

9. Dark chocolate for a feel-good state of mind: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that makes your brain release endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. This chemical is known to alleviate the mood, and is produced when you fall in love. Researchers also found that the effect of leaving a piece of dark chocolate to melt in your mouth has the same effect as kissing!

Keep in mind, however, that it’s always best to enjoy chocolate in moderation, studies have shown that the ideal benefits of dark chocolate are found when small amounts of it is consumed, so there’s no need to eat an entire bar to reap the awesome rewards.

[Image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]