The health benefits of dark chocolate are more abundant than you might realise. Although chocolate is not something we would associate with weight loss, fitness or health.
This is partly the reason that despite most of us having a great affinity towards chocolate, it is often one of the first foods we eliminate when aiming to lose some body fat or improve fitness.
But do we really need to eliminate chocolate to lose fat and improve health?
Why Is Chocolate So Bad For Us?
Chocolate is NOT bad for you. In fact, it is very GOOD for you if eaten in the correct quantities and type.
When chocolate is in it’s most natural form (100% cocoa) it provides us with tonnes of awesome health benefits.
Problems arise when it becomes manufactured into a saleable product, like those we find at the local shop or in the supermarket in all their fancy packaging.
Lot’s of sugar is added, alongside additives, preservatives, trans-fats and more damaging ingredients – this kind of chocolate is bad for you in terms of fat loss and fitness, and if eaten in excessive amounts health can become effected.
The process turns chocolate into an extra high calorie infused product.
How to Avoid Crap and Enjoy the Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
If you haven’t thought it already, then by now you’re probably wondering why i’m giving you another excuse to eat chocolate? As if we need more excuses…
Chocolate is created from the seeds of the cocoa tree, native to the deep tropical region of the Americas (i might win you some quiz points with that information). To gain the health benefits of dark chocolate we need to eat it in as close to its natural form as possible – the less manufactured and processed, the better.
This is possible by choosing a product that is high in cocoa (your local health store is probably the best place to find this), anything above 70% cocoa will provide you with the great nutritional benefits. The product that i use is 85% cocoa and it tastes great. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better the nutrition and health benefits it provides.
Top 6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
The health benefits of eating high-cocoa dark chocolate are plentiful, here is 6 highly researched benefits:
- Improvements to blood pressure.
- Reduced pressure on the cardiovascular system.
- Improved insulin sensitivity.
- Increased immune system.
- A reduction in oxidative stress.
- Reduced instances of inflammation.
What Makes All of these Health Benefits Possible?
High-cocoa dark chocolate is one of the most powerful antioxidants we are able to add to our nutritional inventory – even better than green tea (which is also awesome for it’s antioxidant benefits).
The two stand out antioxidants responsible for all these benefits are flavanoids and polyphenols (both of these are antioxidants we get from plants).
High-cocoa dark chocolate is also rich in vitamins and minerals to aid with the proper functioning of the body, these include Vitamin A, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Iron.
High-Cocoa Dark Chocolate and Cravings
The benefits of high-cocoa dark chocolate are great, but the biggest thing it does for me personally is it allows me to control my cravings. Just a small piece of high-cocoa dark chocolate keeps me satisfied as the taste and flavour sticks around longer than milk or white chocolate.
How Much High-Cocoa Chocolate Each Day?
25 grams each day is a good amount. You don’t have to eat this all at once though, i like to break it up into smaller pieces to have throughout the day.
One important thing to consider is that you will need to exercise restraint, the more you eat the more the calories will add up. Eating too much will ‘cancel out’ all the great benefits of high-cocoa dark chocolate (you’ll still receive the benefits, but your body composition will start to suffer).
When purchasing dark chocolate check the packaging and make sure it is low in sugar and additives, avoid the marketing scams claiming it to be dark chocolate when it actually isn’t – it’s a high-cocoa content you want, above 70% but the higher the better.
Quick High-Cocoa Dark Chocolate Recipe
Chopped or whole banana + high-cocoa dark chocolate + 10 – 20 seconds in the microwave. This can be a great pre-workout snack 60 minutes prior to your session.