Chocolate is a widely popular dessert or treat product and is consumed all over the world. On average, each American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate per year. Around $75 billion is spent on chocolate each year globally.1
Chocolate is originally made from the beans of the cocoa plant. Many chocolate products are then processed with added ingredients such as milk and sugars. In general, there are three common types of chocolate: white, milk and dark chocolates.1
White and milk chocolates are vastly different from dark chocolates and don’t have the same level of health benefits as dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains 70-99% pure cocoa, which is why it’s considered healthy.1
Chocolate Health Uses and Health Benefits
Chocolate health benefits come from its content of pure cocoa. Cocoa and cocoa powders are considered superfoods because of their high antioxidant levels. In fact, studies have shown that the antioxidant levels in dark chocolate products are higher than other comparable super foods like acai berries, blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates.1
Dark chocolate health benefits also come from its nutritional profile which includes iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and fiber. Because of its high antioxidant and nutrient content, dark chocolate health benefits include:
- Preventing disease by fighting free radical damage
- Protecting against cancer development
- Reducing risk of heart disease
- Improving focus, learning and memory
- Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Reducing stress hormone levels
Dark chocolate medicinal uses include helping to treat or prevent the following conditions:
- Sun Sensitivity - The antioxidants in dark chocolate have shown to help prevent sunburn, which is helpful for people who struggle with sun sensitivity.
- Acidity - Eating dark chocolate can help to reduce high levels of acidity in urine.
- Stress - Dark chocolate has been shown to have a balancing effect on stress hormones, helping to reduce stress symptoms and anxiety.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) - Dark chocolate health benefits include helping to lower bad cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels.
- Overweight - Dark chocolate can help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can assist with weight loss.
- Depression - Dark chocolate can help to treat certain symptoms associated with depression such as anxiety, lack of focus and fatigue.
Chocolate Side Effects and Precautions
Some people may experience chocolate side effects when consuming large quantities. These chocolate side effects may include bloating, constipation, gas and headaches. Only consume dark chocolate in small quantities as it does contain caffeine, which can cause an elevated heart rate.1