As a child and well into our adulthoods, chocolate has been the embodiment of something special.
The perfect way to celebrate good news, budding love, heartbreak or just when you need a little boost, “kuch meetha ho jaye” seldom fails.
It’s not just the feel-good moments that define chocolate, in its darker forms, it also appears in the many diets and healthy eating programs.
No wonder it has its own special day!
Not only is chocolate allowed in popular diets like Mediterranean and Keto, it is encouraged! In moderation, of course.
So, this World Chocolate Day, let’s celebrate chocolate and take a look at the top 5 reasons why you should go treat yourself to some decadent chocolate today.
Dark Chocolate: Nutrient Dense and Wholesome
Dark chocolate with high cocoa content contains soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
Dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Dark chocolate also has an excellent fatty acid profile.
The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat.
Rich Source of Antioxidants
Research has proved that dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants. Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants.
These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.
One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries!
May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
According to research, the compounds in dark chocolate maybe highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. This prevents, excess cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.
In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 50% over a 15 year period.
While another study showed that eating dark chocolate more than 5 times per week lowered the risk of heart disease by 57%.
Increases Good Cholesterol and Prevents Bad Cholesterol from Clogging Arteries
Chocolate has remarkable effects on a person’s lipid profile. In a study, cocoa was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol.
Oxidization makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart. Dark Chocolate contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.
Improves Brain Function
Dark chocolate can also make you smarter. According to a study, eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain. Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment.
It may improve verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease, as well.
Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.
(The author is a lawyer turned business intelligence consultant turned chef. He also designs weekly and monthly meal plans for clients and conducts baking and cooking workshops.)