With so many benefits to dark chocolate, everyone should consider adding this superfood. Read how you can improve your heart and gut health, and even lose weight!
People who love dark chocolate already have heard about the health benefits, but now there is an additional research that helps explain many ways in which dark chocolate can be beneficial to our heart health.
Dark chocolate contains flavonols, which are antioxidants that are naturally occurring. They are now recognized as having positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
The recent study conducted used a model of the human digestive tract to examine the reaction of gut bacteria to the flavonols in dark chocolate. Within the gut, there are good and bad bacteria.
Maria Moore, a researcher in the recent study explains, "The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate. When you eat dark chocolate, they grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory."
Because cocoa naturally contains compounds such as catechin and epicatechin, and some fibre, too, the gut welcomes dark chocolate and the good bacteria will feast upon those compounds and, in turn, produce anti-inflammatory factors.
When these non-digestible compounds get to the large intestine, they are then metabolized and anti-inflammatory effects are seen. This means that not only are the good bacteria in the gut promoted, but the risk of stroke is reduced as well because heart tissue benefits from the anti-inflammatory compounds.
These compounds are known as prebiotics, and are found not only in dark chocolate, but also in whole wheat flour that is cooked, as well as raw garlic. If you do not consume these foods, there are supplements that you can take. Combining dark chocolate with other antioxidant foods, such as pomegranate and acai berries, can really give your health a boost.
More health benefits, such as lower amounts of cholesterol that leads to arteriosclerosis, are also tied to eating dark chocolate. This means that the compounds contained within dark chocolate can help make the arteries more flexible, and help prevent plaque particles from sticking and causing them to stiffen.
As a superfood, dark chocolate has tremendous credibility. But, you can’t just eat any kind of chocolate to get these benefits. The dark chocolate should be of high quality—lower quality chocolates often contain hydrogenated oils instead of pure cocoa butter, and this means far less health benefits (and some risks from the hydrogenated oils). Milk chocolate provides less than half the benefit of dark chocolate.
To find the best dark chocolate, it is important to read the labels and ensure a high content of cocoa butter and low sugar content. Generally, when the content level of cocoa butter is high, the amount of sugar is lower. High levels of sugar will lead to insulin imbalances and other health problems.
Try to get dark chocolate that is more than 50% cocoa content, and avoid the Dutch chocolate varieties, because the manner in which the Dutch chocolate is processed can cut the health benefits, too.
Dark chocolate can also help with weight management. When you consume a small amount of dark chocolate 20-30 minutes before a meal, hormones in your brain are stimulated and start to let you know you feel full. Another bite of dark chocolate after the meal will help, too.
When you do this regularly, you will consume fewer calories, which will help with your weight loss goals by helping to decrease the food cravings and balance your insulin levels effectively. Add dark chocolate by sprinkling some cocoa powder into your coffee or yoghurt each day!
Incorporating dark chocolate into your diet can have many positive health benefits!
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