Top 6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

It’s not always the case that delicious foods are also healthy for us — but dark chocolate is one tasty exception, with these six leading health benefits.

1. Plenty of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols and flavanols. These compounds help the body fight oxidative stress — the accumulation of molecules called free radicals, which damage cells and accelerate aging or disease.

2. Rich in Minerals
The higher the cacao content in dark chocolate, the more nutrients it will have — especially minerals. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and zinc.

3. Controls Cholesterol
Dark chocolate consumption is linked to healthier cholesterol levels, including higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This can then reduce the risk of heart disease.

4. May Improve Blood Pressure
The high antioxidant content in dark chocolate supports healthier blood pressure. Specifically, flavanols stimulate the lining of arteries to produce nitric oxide, a compound that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.

5. Brain-Boosting Benefits
Some research has shown that dark chocolate consumption is linked to better brain health and cognition. This may be due to increased blood flow to the brain or the high levels of antioxidants.

6. May Improve Mood
Lastly, consumption of dark chocolate may improve mood — both in the short- and long term. Researchers think that dark chocolate’s levels of flavanols, magnesium, and small amounts of caffeine may contribute to this benefit. One study found that people who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to report depression.

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