The Top 5 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Eating chocolate is a win-win: it tastes delicious, and it’s healthy for us! But, there’s one caveat — chocolate candy bars and ice cream won’t do the trick. These top 5 health benefits of chocolate come from eating cacao (or cocoa bean); chocolate products containing 70% cacao or more will be the healthiest — the darker, the better!

Chocolate is Loaded With Antioxidants
Chocolate is loaded with antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols and flavanols. These compounds help the body fight oxidative stress — the accumulation of free radicals, which damage cells and accelerate aging or disease.

Chocolate Benefits Heart Health
The high antioxidant content in chocolate benefits the cardiovascular system. Specifically, flavanols stimulate the lining of arteries to produce nitric oxide, a compound that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. Chocolate is also linked to healthier cholesterol levels, including higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Chocolate Supports the Gut Microbiome
Two of the most beneficial flavonols in chocolate are epicatechin and catechin, which are associated with improved gut health. Epicatechin and catechin are thought to increase the quantity and quality of the bacteria in our gut microbiome, increasing the “good guys” and reducing the bad ones.

Chocolate is a Brain Booster
Some research has shown that consuming dark chocolate or cacao is linked to better brain health and cognition. Researchers think this may be due to increased blood flow to the brain or the high levels of antioxidants that fight oxidative stress in the brain.

Chocolate Creates a Healthy Mood
Many people notice that chocolate makes them feel better — and studies can back this claim up. Researchers believe that dark chocolate’s levels of flavanols, magnesium, and small amounts of caffeine may contribute to the mood-boosting effects of chocolate.

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