Dark Chocolate Health Benefits: Heart Superfood

Good for your heart, good for your taste buds.

What is dark chocolate?
Cultures in Mexico produced chocolate as early as 1900 B.C. Originally, it was consumed as a bitter beverage. The cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste that was mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla, sweetened with honey.

Why is it a superfood?
Dark Chocolate is a powerful antioxidant known for its neuroprotection, which make it a superfood. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system.

What are the other health benefits?
In case you were looking for more reasons to love chocolate, there are many potential heart health benefits in dark chocolate. The candy company Mars, Inc., is investing in the health benefits of the food. It has sponsored research to prove the potential role of cocoa flavonoids in cardiovascular health. Flavonoids are chemicals that might lower hypertension. Dark chocolate contains more flavonoids than milk chocolate or white chocolate. Mars, Inc. is also sponsoring research to see if cocoa flavonoids can help reduce age-related memory decline.

A 2009 study found that people who ate 40 grams (about an ounce) of chocolate every day for two weeks saw decreases in levels of cortisol in their systems compared to its levels at the start of the study. Another study a year later showed that, over the course of 30 days, people who ate cocoa daily had 10 percent lower levels of anxiety and considered themselves 10 percent calmer than they had been at the start of the study.

Another unexpected benefit is its ability to boost your pre-exercise energy levels and cutting down on post-workout soreness based on another study. Cocoa’s catechins and epicatechins, two kinds of antioxidants, increase your muscle’s absorption of nutrients that create energy, which can help you get energized to work out and help carry you through your workout.