I eat chocolate every day. I mostly eat dark chocolate, which is the “best” for your health, but I do treat myself to my favourite vegan chocolates fairly often. Dark chocolate is usually vegan by default, but not always so check the ingredients, but sometimes you want something that tastes like milk chocolate. Lifes too short not to indulge. Most of the health benefits of chocolate are from dark chocolate, and those with high cocoa percentages. The higher the percentage the better, but dark dark chocolate is an acquired taste. It can be easy to slip into your diet by making dark chocolate covered strawberries or hot chocolate! Here are 5 reasons to eat dark chocolate every day.
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants
Antioxidants are one of the best health benefits of dark chocolate.
Antioxidants are compounds that disarm free radical damage. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have split into single atoms with unpaired electrons. This happens as a result of oxidative stress which is caused by pollution, processed food, smoking, and sometimes just life. Free radicals basically roam free throughout the body, looking for an electron to pair with, and cause harm to DNA, which can trigger premature aging and illness.
Dark chocolate, especially chocolate over 70%, is one of the best antioxidants available, and even beats out some fruit! (but don’t stop eating fruit – we still need a good dose of fruit and veg daily).
Unprocessed cocoa beans are the best antioxidants but dark chocolate and cocoa powder still performs well, due to the presence of antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavanols
Dark chocolate can protect your skin
There’s a long-standing myth that chocolate is bad for your skin and triggers acne. The reality is that a high sugar diet can cause breakouts, and most commercial milk chocolates are full of sugar. Some people are also sensitive to the hormones in milk, which is why acne suffers are told to cut out the milk chocolate, but people just lump all chocolate into the one category. Low percent dark chocolates can actually have just as much sugar as milk chocolate sometimes, but high cocoa dark chocolate can be good for your skin!
Dark chocolate rich in flavonols can actually protect your skin from UV rays. This doesn’t mean that you can ditch the SPF, but it can help in conjunction with SPF and a good skincare regime. Sunburn not only can cause skin cancer but also premature aging. The UV protection is also only from chocolate that is unprocessed and minimally processed, commercial milk chocolate won’t have these effects.
Cocao and dark chocolate are also anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is one of the biggest triggers for acne and breakouts, so a few squares of 70% dark chocolate can help improve skin.
Dark Chocolate Boosts Memory
One of the reasons to eat dark chocolate every day is not just because it can be good for your skin and body, but good for your brain too!
Within 30 minutes of eating dark chocolate, researches found that participants’ brain activity associated with cognition and memory increased after eating dark chocolate. It returned to normal shortly after which is why a second study had participants eat chocolate every day for a week, and cut down on other antioxidants food to get a clearer picture of the benefits the dark chocolate specifically had. The second test showed the genes which play a role in sensory perception and neural signaling improved, as well as immune response, while inflammation decreased.
Anecdotally, I’ve been eating dark chocolate before every exam for a good few years now, and I managed to get into University with flying colours, and graduated so I’m gonna say the health benefits of dark chocolate helped with that.
Dark chocolate makes you happy
Chocolate is a good mood food. It’s not actually the sugar rush in a bar of chocolate that makes you happy, it’s the cocoa!
Dark chocolate can reduce your risk of suffering from depression. This is because of the flavonoids and phenylethylamine (PEA) which stimulates the central nervous system in chocolate (these are also found in fruit and veg). It can also boosts mood as those who ate dark chocolate were less likely to report feeling depressed 24 hours later. These health benefits of dark chocolate didn’t apply to milk chocolate, and the ideal amount was still around 70% cocao.
Depression is much more complex than eating some veggies and dark chocolate and going for a walk. A combination of approaches are needed to treat and manage depression, but some chocolate can’t hurt.
Dark chocolate is also good for PMSing and cramps which is why we want it so much during that time of the month.
It’s good for your soul.
Sometimes you don’t need a superfood healthy reason to eat something. Although these reasons to eat dark chocolate every day are great, I’d probably eat it all the time anyway because I love it and life’s too short not to eat chocolate. Most days I have dark chocolate, but sometimes I opt for a vegan milk or white chocolate and that’s okay too.
As Spongebob said about the Krabby Patty: it’s good for your soul. Even if it is a heart attack in a bun…
The Bottom Line
Dark chocolate is well worth acquiring a taste for. I’m still not a fan of raw chocolate because I find the texture is always weird but I’m happy with a good 70% bar. You can build up by starting with lower percentages, but if you really don’t like it but still want to reap the health benefits of dark chocolate, you can blend some dark chocolate or cocoa powder into a smoothie, melt it onto fruit, make some avocado mousse, or add some dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs to granola, oats, or baking. The sweet spot for these health benefits of dark chocolate is a few squares of 70% and higher per day, but in the meantime, lower is a good start.
Do you have any reasons for eating dark chocolate every day or do you just like it like I do?