A delight for the taste buds, dark chocolate can contribute to your overall wellness. It is important to understand that dark chocolate is more than just a culinary indulgence; it can have a positive impact on your health. Modern-day research has highlighted that the active ingredients of dark chocolate have the potential to help improve the skin quality and give it a healthy appearance. Dark chocolate can also offer potential benefits for your skin including its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties and it is time that we make the most of it.
Throwing some light on dark chocolate1
Dark chocolate is derived from cacao, a plant that contains high amounts of minerals and antioxidants. Compared to commercial milk chocolate commonly available in the market, dark chocolate has higher amounts of cacao and lesser amounts of sugar. Good quality dark chocolate with high cocoa content can be quite nutritious. Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Studies have highlighted that dark chocolate may even help improve our skin health and lower the risk of disease.
It might come off as surprising but a 100 grams bar of dark chocolate contains-
79 grams of protein
42.6 grams of fat
9 grams of dietary fiber
49 grams of carbohydrate
19 milligrams of iron
228.00 milligrams of magnesium
31 milligrams of zinc
Other beneficial compounds present in dark chocolate include flavanols, polyphenols, theobromine, etc3. Thus, dark chocolate offers a nutritional profile that goes beyond its delectable flavor. So, the next time, you take a bite, know that you are treating your body to a mix of essential nutrients and not just satisfying your sweet tooth!
Potential benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is now being considered a functional food due to its health-enhancing properties. It contains multiple potential health-promoting compounds that are believed to offer enormous benefits. Let us take a look at some of these benefits associated with dark chocolate:
Antioxidants:2,3,4 Oxidative stress can be understood as an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body, that may cause damage to your tissues and organs. Oxidative stress contributes to the natural aging process and may contribute to the development of a variety of conditions including pigmentation, wrinkling, sagging, dryness, and roughness.
Flavonoids are very effective against oxidative stress, and it is so that dark chocolate is rich in these flavonoids. Did you know? The bitterness of the chocolate is attributed to high levels of flavonols present in it. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. It is important to understand that excessive oxidative stress, if untreated for a long time, may lead to other health problems, therefore, consuming dark chocolate can potentially have many positive short and long-term effects on our skin and body.
Additionally, cocoa also contains a significant amount of caffeine and theobromine, which are quite helpful for scavenging the free radicals, which are produced in the skin in the presence of UV light.
Protects from sun damage:5, 6, 7 Dark chocolate is rich in active compounds that may help protect the skin from different types of damage. In a research study, it was highlighted that regular consumption of chocolate rich in flavanols helps provide significant photoprotection and can thus be effective at protecting human skin from harmful UV effects. Flavonol contributes towards potentially improving the skin's healing capacity and protecting against sun damage. It is important to note that conventional chocolate does not have any such effect. However, this does not mean that you should not take other basic precautions to safeguard from sun damage including sunscreen and other forms of sun protection.
Improves blood circulation:3,8 The potential benefits associated with dark chocolate include better skin blood flow. Optimum skin blood flow ensures that antioxidants reach the skin and benefit us, and improved oxygenation for repairing the damage. The bitterness of the chocolate is attributed to high levels of flavonols, which are a type of flavonoids. Also, cocoa contains 12–18% of flavonoids3. Flavonol contributes towards potentially improving skin blood flow and oxygen levels.
Anti Inflammatory effects:10,9 Dark chocolate contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation. Moreover, eating chocolate may influence the gut microbiome and encourage anti-inflammatory activity.
Reduces stress related skin damage:11,9,10 According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin is both a target and a source of stress hormones and is highly vulnerable to itch, inflammation, irritation, and infection. A high level of stress can also trigger inflammation, slow wound healing, and have a potentially negative impact on already prevailing skin conditions. Additionally, experts suggest that our skin produces more oil when under stress, which may trigger acne, skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, or agitate it further. However, there is a flavorful twist. Research shows that eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate approximately for 2 weeks could potentially reduce levels of stress hormones and other stress-related changes in the bodies.
Apart from these cosmetic and skin-related benefits, dark chocolate may even have a role to play in cognitive health12, weight management, heart health, blood pressure13 control, etc. Therefore, it is important to appreciate the bright and beneficial effects that dark chocolate has to offer.
We can conclude that there is considerable evidence that suggests that dark chocolate is quite nutritious and may offer potential health benefits. Therefore, consuming quality dark chocolate in a regulated manner may not be such a bad idea after all. Don’t you agree? However, this does not mean that you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate for the sake of it!