Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
As a low carb diet life blogger, one of the main dark chocolate health benefits of interest is that it is low carb! And there are companies that make a delicious variety of keto sugar-free chocolate chips, keto sugar free candy, and candy bars. And I have tried several of them to know that they are high-quality chocolates with a natural sugar substitutes that do not cause gastrointestinal upset. Nevertheless, this post will concentrate on some additional health benefits of eating chocolate. Once you add a ton of sugar and dairy milk (contains a lactose sugar), it negates most of the health benefits of chocolate. So, keep in mind that these health benefits are all in reference to sugar-free chocolates.
But first – let’s get on the same page.
Like many low carb nuts, chocolate also comes from the seed of a fruit – the cacao fruit. The cacao fruit is a beautifully colored fruit that grows on a tree. The dark chocolate health benefits are just as amazing as the fruit in which it is derived.
Cacao (Chocolate) Fruit
The cacao fruit reminds me of the coffee fruit. Interestingly, both are bitter, dark, caffeinated, and have a robust flavor. The image below is a cacao fruit that has been cut open to show the seeds. The seeds are processed to remove the whitish colored oils (cocoa butter) surrounding the dark colored cacao nibs.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Once the whitish colored cocoa butter has been removed, you are left with a solid cacao (cocoa) nib that can be converted to a raw organic cacao powder. So, now that you know where chocolate comes from, let’s get back to the health benefits of chocolate.
1. Low Glycemic Index
As a low carb food, dark chocolate has a low glycemic index. This means that upon consumption of sugar-free dark chocolate, it does not cause a spike in the body’s blood glucose levels. In this way, it reduces the work load on the pancreas and thereby reduces the risk of diabetes. So, you can eat dark chocolate on a low carb diet plan.
Of all foods, dark chocolate contains the highest source of magnesium. Dr. Axe lists 7 health benefits of magnesium-rich foods including:
1. Reduces Symptoms of PMS
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
3. Increases Physical Performance
4. Relieves Inflammation
5. Prevents Migraines
6. Improves Blood Sugar
7. Fights Against Depression
8. Improves Sleep Quality
3. Vitamins & Minerals
Additional dark chocolate health benefits is that it’s high in vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and copper. Iron is essential for new red blood cell formation. Therefore, dark chocolate can help prevent anemia. Potassium is most essential for balancing sodium levels. In this way, potassium helps regulate blood pressure thereby reducing your risk of stroke and heart disease. Copper is a trace mineral, meaning that we only need it in small amounts. Nevertheless, it is essential to our health. Its primary role is proper hemoglobin formation and collagen production.
According to One Green Planet, chocolate is one of the richest sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are used to remove the damaging effects of free radicals from the body. Free radicals are thought to be related to visible signs of aging and some cancers. Therefore, two dark chocolate health benefits are reduced signs of aging and reduced risk of cancer.
Dark chocolate actually dilate your veins and arteries. In this way, dark chocolate is beneficial for your heart health because it improves blood flow. And as a result, it can also lower your blood pressure.
6. Mood Enhancer
As a mood enhancer, this is one of the more popular dark chocolate health benefits. Often when we are saddened, tired, or stressed, chocolate makes us feel better. Well, it’s not our imagination. According to Health Prep, dark chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is a chemical released in the brain when a person falls in love. The result is that it causes the body to produce endorphins – a feel good hormone.
Then, PEA breaks down into one of the most effective mood-regulators that the body can produce – serotonin! It is known as the “happy” chemical in the brain. People with a low serotonin level often suffer from depression. Therefore, one of the low carb dark chocolate health benefits is a reduced risk of depression.
As a mood enhancer, dark chocolate can also reduce your level of stress.
7. High In Iron
Yet another one of the health benefits of dark chocolate is its relatively high concentration of iron. Dark chocolate contains about 3.3 mg of iron per ounce. This is equivalent to around 18% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). Other plant-based sources of iron are comparatively low.
Yep – sugar free dark chocolate is actually good for you! After discovering the health benefits of chocolate, you may want to incorporate more low carb chocolate bars it into your low carb diet. Since you can incorporate chocolate on low carb diet plans, check out some more of our upcoming low carb chocolate posts. This concludes the information on dark chocolate health benefits.