Oh, I crack myself up sometimes!!! This post will surely be one of my favorites! So, today I am going to tell the world why you should eat MORE dark chocolate! Of course, moderation is still a thing (boo), but adding some dark chocolate to your day can be beneficial for many reasons.
Good news! It is actually very nutritious. A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber.
- 67% of the RDA for Iron.
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
- 89% of the RDA for Copper.
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
(I do not recommend eating that much in a day, that is actually a large portion! That is also 600 calories and loads of sugar, I go back to my moderation statement.) It contains natural stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, but it because its caffeine content is much lower than coffee, it will unlikely keep you up at night.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants.
- Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.
- One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries.
Dark Chocolate may improve blood flood and lower blood pressure.
- The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a gas.
- One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the articles to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.
- There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, but the effects are usually mild
Dark Chocolate raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.
- Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease.
- In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men.
- It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol. Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.
- This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues… such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
- It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage.
- Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Dark Chocolate may lower the risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
- The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL.
- In the long-term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long-term.
- It turns out that we have several long-term observational studies that show a fairly drastic improvement.
- In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.
- Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect.
- Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.
- Of course, these 3 studies are so-called observational studies that can not prove that it was the chocolate that caused the reduction in risk.
Dark Chocolate may protect your skin against the sun.
- The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for your skin.
- The flavonols can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
- The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of UVB rays required to cause redness in the skin, 24 hours after exposure.
- In one study of 30 people, the MED more than doubled after consuming dark chocolate high in flavanols for 12 weeks.
Dark chocolate may improve brain function. The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain.
- One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain.
- Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease.
- Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may be a key reason cocoa can improve brain function in the short-term.
It doesn’t hurt to go organic, or look for 60-70% or higher cocoa content, it is a finer quality..most grocery store chocolate is whack. Also remember, the darker the chocolate..the less sugar it usually contains. Of course, one final detail I shouldn’t leave out is the taste…it’s delicious! (Once again, this is not an excuse to go eat 12 bars at once, moderation people!)
Now to the good part… THE RECIPE! One of my favorite ways to consume dark chocolate is in the truffle persuasion. I have made these numerous times and there are so many ways to play here.
Here’s what you’ll need
- 1¾ Cup Dark Chocolate Baking Chips (I use Ghirardelli)
- 1/3 Cup Cocoa
- 1/3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 6 Tablespoons Butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 Teaspoon Brandy Flavoring
In a sauce pan, bring the Heavy Whipping Cream to a simmer, then add butter. Stir butter until melted, then add Baking Chips. Add the brandy flavoring to the chocolate and stir until it is completely melted and smooth.
Pour chocolate into a shallow bowl, and cover. Refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. The mixture will firm up a good bit. Once chocolate is firm, shape into balls. If you have a melon baller, your life is much easier right now. But if not you can just use two small spoons to achieve the same thing with a little more effort.
Once you’ve rolled into a ball, now roll it in cocoa, or if you wanna add more fun, chopped nuts. These will keep in an airtight container for about a week to two weeks, mine never make it that long! If you are using these for a party or gathering, I have in the past put each truffle into a cute mini cupcake liner to make it look more fancy.
*Thanks to this site for the great facts.