Sharon is a human resources professional who enjoys sharing simple recipes that make mealtime deliciously easy!
If you have a sweet tooth or consider yourself a "chocoholic" you can relax and enjoy the dark cacao variety. There are health benefits associated with the consumption of dark chocolate. We have all been told to avoid sweets because they are not good for you. Now there is one sweet you can indulge in!
Dark Chocolate has Health Benefits
Watch the Calories
However, one word of caution - dark chocolate is high in calories so overindulging is ill advised. You must always remember that balance and moderation is key so limit your intake of this treat to reap the benefits and avoid the drawbacks.
So how much is enought? Eating a small dark chocolate bar daily can be quite good for you so keep curb your intake to no more than this.
Why is dark chocolate beneficial to your health? There are many reasons.
One of these healthy reasons is that dark chocolate is a powerful antioxidant that battles those free radicals responsible for our aging process. It is also low on the glycemic index keeping our blood sugar stable and this in turn helps keep us trim. It protects the heart from disease and it can also act as a brain booster! These are a few of the great reasons to add dark chocolate to your diet.
Milk chocolate does not have same health benefits because it contains a lower concentration of cacao. Cacao is the superstar here and dark chocolate contains lots of it! However not all dark chocolate is equal. Cacao is the active ingredient in chocolate that makes it healthy and provides the nutritional benefits. The higher the percentage of cacao in the chocolate the better. Dark chocolate varieties contain the most cacao.
Check the label - you should be consuming dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao to realize the benefits.
How does dark chocolate do all these great things? Read on!
Why is Dark Chocolate Healthy?
Dark chocolate is good for you because It is chock full of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your healthy cells from the detrimental effects of free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules in your body that are primarily responsible for aging; tissue damage and some diseases. These molecules bond with healthy cells and damage them and as you age your natural protection diminishes.
Therefore getting more antioxidants through your diet is important. The cocoa contained in dark chocolate actually contains more antioxidants than healthy foods such as blueberries and green tea!
Low Glycemic Food
Dark chocolate is rich in "flavanols" which are the antioxidants described above. But flavanols also play a greater role than just fighting off free radicals. They help to restore the cells ability to allow sugar to enter the cells from the bloodstream so it can be used for energy.
Dark chocolate has an glycemic index rating of only 23. This is very low. Low glycemic foods with an index of 55 or less when consumed keep the blood sugar levels steady. Keeping your blood sugar levels steady is critical to avoid developing diabetes and to maintain a healthy weight. It also helps to increase your energy levels.
The consumption of dark chocolate has been shown to reduce the inflammation that is associated with the development of heart disease and the reduction is significant!
Chronic Inflammation has a strong connection to the development of heart disease so the ability to reduce this inflammation is a great health benefit. C-reactive protein levels in blood cause this inflammation and studies shows that people who eat dark chocolate regularly have much lower levels of this protein in their bloodstream.
The recommendation is one small chocolate bar per day (about 6.7 grams or 0.23 ounces), no more than that is recommended. There is one caution, dark chocolate is a high fat food, some of this fat is saturated but as long as it is eaten in moderation, the healthy benefits are not lost. It is still worth adding dark chocolate to your diet.
Dark chocolate has been shown to have an effect on the brain and in a good way. It doesn't put you into a chocolate induced fog but actually quite the opposite!
Researchers have revealed that consumption of dark chocolate significantly increases blood flow to the brain. The increase of blood flow is thought to increase alertness and memory for at least a few hours.
It appears that a dark chocolate bar is a good treat to consume when you need to concentrate for a few hours perhaps during an exam or working on a project at work. This research has implications for treating vascular related disorders such as stroke and dementia. Flavanols are again the ingredient that is responsible for these benefits and dark chocolate is rich in flavanols!
Healthiest Dark Chocolate
The Taste of Dark Chocolate
It's true that dark chocolate is not as creamy or sweet as milk chocolate. But milk chocolate shares none of the healthy benefits. Dark chocolate is an acquired taste. However, if you allow the chocolate to melt slowly in your mouth the creamier chocolate flavors will be unleashed. You just have to know how to enjoy it.
Dark chocolate should always be brought to room temperature - a cold bar becomes brittle and unappealing.
When purchasing dark chocolate be certain it contains at least 70 percent cacao (cocoa). Anything less than this will not provide the same health benefits, in fact quite the opposite. More and more chocolate companies such as Hershey are now producing dark chocolate bars that are readily available at the local supermarket. It just makes sense to pick up that dark chocolate bar instead of the sugary milk chocolate version.
Dark Chocolate Recipes
Hot Chocolate Drink
Here is a recipe for homemade hot chocolate made with healthy ingredients. I hope you will try it, its one of my favorites.
4 cups soy milk or almond milk
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt (to taste)
1. Using a small saucepan, combine ingredients
2. Using a whisk stir over medium low heat until the chocolate has melted and mixture is steaming hot.
3. Ready in about 5 minutes
How to Make Dark Chocolate
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo
Share your thoughts on the benefits of Dark Chocolate.......
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on February 01, 2014:
Must try some dark chocolate, haven't eaten it for many years as I seem to always get a headache.
Have heard it's good for high blood pressure, but must be high in a cacao.
KandH on August 19, 2013:
This is really good to know, it'll make me choose dark chocolate even more now and thanks for the great options to try it, they all look so yummy!
Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on July 08, 2013:
Oh I love chocolate. I actually eat milk chocolate now and then, but I do try my best to stick to the dark variety.
yoheb15 on May 29, 2013:
I like milk chocolate more, but I follow very strict diets so I only allow myself to have dark chocolate. As I've continued to eat it as an occasional treat, I've started to really enjoy it. Loved the lens, particularly the recipe for the drink. I'll have to try it sometime soon.
ismeedee on February 24, 2013:
Great lens, it's nice to have your chocolate and eat it too!! mmmm...
tomoxby on February 18, 2013:
Its interesting that if you start eating dark chocolate and then go back and try milk chocolate I find that it is too sweet. Love dark chocolate now.
FashionMommy on February 17, 2013:
It's nice to know that you can indulge in dark chocolate and not feel too guilty about it! Very helpful and resourceful lens!
nicolane on November 10, 2012:
I an an equal opportunities chocolate lover!
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on November 03, 2012:
@Torrs13: Yes, me too! I love chocolate.
Torrs13 on November 03, 2012:
Great information! Dark chocolate is so good! My problem comes when they say to eat it in moderation...
kevkev227 lm on July 22, 2012:
Love all varieties :)
Kim from Yonkers, NY on July 08, 2012:
OMG I LOVE Dark Chocolate the darker the better! & the best thing.. no one else I know likes it lol so all for me! I've added this to my Beauty Balm for the next update (& possibly another lens or 2 favorite lenses lens at least)
playercoach on June 27, 2012:
My doctor says I need to watch my intake of sweets. I learned quite a bit here from your lens. Nice job. Now I have some new things to talk to my doc about next visit, especially on the benefits of dark chocolate.
Annamadagan on June 25, 2012:
Great lens. Dark chocolate is a great treat. Blessings!
TopFiveBestDeals on June 24, 2012:
anonymous on June 20, 2012:
I love dark chocolate it is much more satisfiying than regular chocolate.
Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on June 20, 2012:
I love chocolate, especially dark, but I try not to exaggerate...
anonymous on June 06, 2012:
I like how dark chocolate is so rich that one or two squares is often enough to satisfy your craving. =]
Chazz from New York on June 04, 2012:
Mmmmm. Chocolate. My favorite foodgroup. Nice to know one of the things I like to eat is not hazardous to my health.
anonymous on June 04, 2012:
Since learning about the health benefits of dark chocolate years ago it has been the only chocolate I eat. I'm at the point where I don't like the taste of regular chocolate and prefer dark. Great lens.
mikes-cool-stuff on June 03, 2012:
I have heard that dark chocolate was good for you, but this lens puts all the pieces together, good work. Let me also thank you for liking one of my lenses.
natashaely on June 01, 2012:
I love dark chocolate and I always make hot chocolate with chocolate rather than the powder, it is divine. This is a fabulous page and I have enjoyed reading about it, I can taste the chocolate now :)
lclchors on May 29, 2012:
if I have an oz every nite or other nite I don't have a sweet tooth the rest of the time
puppyprints on May 27, 2012:
My Mom got me started eating dark chocolate - I really like it
Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on May 22, 2012:
Wonderful information and very well written. I've sprinkled this lens with SquidAngel dust! :)
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on May 19, 2012:
Nice lens:) I also have one on chocolate...and the benefits of the dark variety
momsfunny on May 18, 2012:
Another reason to enjoy dark chocolate.
ogrote on May 18, 2012:
Not a big fan until I've read your lens. Very informative.
myamya on May 16, 2012:
I love dark chocolate! nice lens!
rachelscott on May 14, 2012:
ninakreativa on May 13, 2012:
Dark chocolate is my all time favorite chocolate, no matter what for it comes in :) Great lens for dark chocoholics :)
AJ from Australia on May 12, 2012:
I do know the benefits of dark chocolate (apart from taste), but it is always a pleasure to be reassured of the advantages to such pleasure.
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 12, 2012:
@Margaret Schindel: That's great thank you! I am a complete chocoholic and it was a hard habit to kick; milk chocolate was once my fave - but now I eat only dark with no guilt, yay. Yours is a great fondue recipe, I'll be trying it soon :)
Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on May 12, 2012:
I've written about the benefits of dark chocolate in my Sophisticated Dark Chocolate Fondue with Honey and Cognac recipe lens, but since that topic is the entire focus of your lens, you've gone into much more detail, which is great! I'll be linking to this lens from my dark chocolate fondue recipe lens in the Explore Related Lenses section (in the right-hand column). Thanks for sharing! :)
AnimalHouse on May 11, 2012:
Grabbing that dark chocolate bar already.
Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on May 08, 2012:
It's nice that something so delicious is actually good for you too! Great lens!
sherridan on May 08, 2012:
Wonderful lens - just the excuse I needed to nip out for a dark chocolate pick me up!
getwellsoon on May 07, 2012:
Since I do not do well with a lot of sweet treats, dark chocolate is perfect for me!
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 06, 2012:
@anonymous: Added a module to my dark chocolate lens - it is a "brain booster" thanks for the insight!
DebMartin on May 04, 2012:
I love the dark chocolate drink recipe. Thanks for that. I had never thought of using almond milk. What a great idea. d
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on May 02, 2012:
@anonymous: hmmm..something to investigate! :)
anonymous on May 02, 2012:
Somewhere I read dark chocolate can boost your memory. Have you heard about this?
queenofduvetcover on May 02, 2012:
Wow, pretty awesome lens! I love anything chocolate and it's great to hear that dark chocolate is actually good for you. Bring on the dark chocolate! =D
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on May 01, 2012:
I hope scientists never change their minds about the benefits of dark chocolate. It's my fave!
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on April 30, 2012:
As a child I always wanted dark chocolate. I was overjoyed to hear things recently about it being healthy. Thanks for reinforcing that.
Tamara14 on April 30, 2012:
First thing that always comes to my mind when someone mentions dark chocolate is that gorgeous movie Chocolate. I've enjoyed watching her make all those hot chocolate drinks and all those pure dark chocolate sweets that have nothing to do with all these "like chocolate" stuff we eat today. Great reminder this lens, thanks :)
Sharon Bellissimo (author) from Toronto, Canada on April 29, 2012:
@Wayne Rasku: Yes me too, but many people I know just don't like it and find it bitter, even the best brands, I am usually the recipient of the unwanted dark chocolate in their gift baskets at Christmas time!
Wayne Rasku on April 29, 2012:
I am surprised that dark chocolate may be an acquired taste. I have loved it from the very first bite!