Today’s healthy ingredient spotlight needs little introduction, but perhaps some explaining. Typically, the words “dark chocolate” and “world’s healthiest foods” don’t appear in the same sentence, let alone the same discussion. Until very recently, that is. We’ll never know why scientists chose to look into the health benefits of dark chocolate, but we’re extremely glad they did! Not only is it one of our favorite treats, but it’s incredibly versatile as well.
Made from cocoa beans, pure dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids – plant antioxidants – that provide a growing list of health benefit. Studies have found that antioxidants reduce inflammation, promote cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of heart disease and support healthy blood pressure. Even more, dark chocolate has been shown to:
- Reduce stress hormones
- Improve liver function in people with cirrhosis
- Improve gastrointestinal flora (hello, healthy digestion!)
- Protect from sun damage by improving blood flow to the skin (don’t skip the sun block entirely)
When we say dark chocolate is healthy, we don’t mean you should head to your nearest convenience store and grab the first box of bars you see. The chocolate that is going to pack the most bang for your buck is raw, unprocessed cocoa (powder form is best). It’s important to keep in mind that while it’s healthy, you should still watch your portions (too much of anything is rarely a good thing). You also need to be on the lookout for impostors and fillers, too, as many commercial varieties are loaded with sugar, stabilizers or artificial ingredients. Always check the label and be sure you see cocoa (beans or powder) and cocoa butter/oil. If you’re looking for something slightly sweet, be sure the sugar added is as unrefined as possible.
In terms of macros, dark chocolate is surprisingly high in quite a few important nutrients, compounds and minerals, including:
- Phosphorus, zinc and selenium (in smaller amounts)
To get your daily dose of mood enhancing, immunity-supporting, nutritious dark chocolate, plus a punch of probiotic power, try some of our favorite recipes:
(topped with cocoa powder)