There are a few ways you can tell Easter is around the corner, but there’s always one thing in specific: Easter eggs. Lining the shelves in supermarkets, ready to be picked up for brunches and egg hunts. Admittedly, for a lot of us, chocolate has become one of the defining features of Easter. In fact, did you know that 80 million chocolate eggs are sold in the U.K. each year? While 65% of us prefer eating milk chocolate, dark chocolate actually has various health benefits, so if you’re worried about over-indulging this Easter, why not try switching out the milk chocolate for dark chocolate instead?
What makes dark chocolate different?
Dark chocolate is made from cacao, which usually forms about 60% or more of of its total content, making it taste slightly more bittersweet compared to other chocolates which have a lower percentage of cacao. You’re probably thinking: how in the world could any form of chocolate be considered healthy? Cacao is actually full of health benefits, so when grinded up and mixed with a few other ingredients, you’re still likely to reap in some of those health benefits.
1. Fights off disease?
Dark chocolate fights off free radicals, or unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, that are prone to cause disease. This is because dark chocolate is actually filled with antioxidants, those compounds like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, that neutralize the environmental toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. In fact, the higher cacao percentage of your dark chocolate, the more antioxidants you’ll consume – so keep that in mind for your Easter egg purchases!
2. Potentially prevents cancer
Dark chocolate has a rich supply of flavonoids, one specific kind of antioxidant that has links to helping you ward off cancer. This feature of dark chocolate has actually given it the reputation of a superfood. However, research about the links between cancer and dark chocolate are still emerging, as scientists are unsure of whether its the pleasurable eating experience that may be fighting off cancer – although even that’s a good enough excuse for us to eat a basket full of chocolate eggs.
3. Improves heart health
Flavonoids have more health benefits though, according to research done on 20,000 people over the span of 11 years. Another benefit of eating dark chocolate is that it can actually lower your blood pressure, improving blood flow in your entire body, from toes to brain! With this, your risk of blood clots and stroke can be reduced. This is comparable to white chocolate which, because it has no cacao in it, has limited positive effects on heart health.
4. Neutralises cholesterol levels
Amongst other ingredients, one of dark chocolate’s main ingredients is cocoa butter, which is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (the same one found in olive oil). Cocoa butter contains an equal amount of oleic, stearic and palmitic acids, which means that it is fairly neutral for your cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate cocoa polyphenols may also be involved in cholesterol control, where researched showed that just one week of consuming dark chocolate improved lipid profiles for both men and women.
5. Improves cognitive ability
That’s right. Dark chocolate is considered a brain food. Remember that increased blood circulation we mentioned? Flavonoids also have the ability to increase cerebral blood flow, which could prevent dementia and stroke. Many studies have corroborated dark chocolate’s ability to improve cognitive abilities such as reasoning, memory, and attention, but mostly in the elderly. It should be noted that the research included other flavonoid-rich foods like wine and tea though, so if you want the most health benefits possible, have a dose of each! We couldn’t think of a better way to spend Easter.
6. Protects your skin
Going on holiday soon? Dark chocolate can actually build up UV resistance if you consume it long-term, so you may consider eating some before planning your next holiday! Dark chocolate can also reduce stress hormones that break down the collagen in the skin, giving it a glow and allowing it to breathe freely. So perhaps a square of chocolate a day will get you ready for summer?
7. All-around nutrition
Eating dark chocolate provides you with a variety of essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. This means it’s good for forming red blood cells, a proper functioning of your immune system and nerves, maintaining healthy bones and a variety of other things! It also contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and an excellent fatty acid profile. However, this doesn’t mean you should go crazy on the dark chocolate – as with other caloric sweet treats, it’s always best to consume in moderation.
Remember, you can contact a medical professional for advice on your dietary health and wellbeing. With the Qured app, you can see a doctor at a time and location of your choice. Download the app today.