As if the idea of enjoying a square (or an entire bar) of dark chocolate wasn’t appealing enough, dark chocolate’s health claims are also very appealing. We’ve heard it all: it lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, improves cognitive function, protects your skin, and more. Find out what the experts have to say about the health of this treat.
The health benefits of dark chocolate
There have been a lot of to research on dark chocolate, but the hype has overtaken the science. Translation: Eating dark chocolate will not instantly or directly accomplish any of the above things. What is certain is that cocoa is rich in three types of flavonoids – phytochemicals found in almost all plant-based foods that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. This is important because chronic inflammation is linked to conditions such as Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritismetabolic syndrome, asthma, heart disease and cancer.
“These compounds also benefit cardiovascular health by improving blood flow, reducing the risk of clotting, and improving blood pressure levels,” says Whitney Linsenmeyer, Ph.D., RDspokesperson for Nutrition and Dietetics Academy. Cocoa is also rich in iron, zinc, copper and magnesium, all essential minerals needed for blood health, immunity and cell growth.
How much dark chocolate is healthy to eat?
There’s no magic amount of dark chocolate you need to eat to get those flavonoids; the dosage used in studies varies. But experts agree that you should treat it like any other candy and consume it in moderation. “Yes, it contains antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals, but let’s not call it a health food, it still contains a lot of sugar and fat.” In other words, aim for 1/4 of a full size bar.
How we chose the best dark chocolate
We consulted Linsenmeyer, Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., RDNassistant professor of nutrition at New York University and author of Finally full, finally thin, Keri Gans, MS, RDNew York-based nutrition consultant and author of The small change diet, Scott Keatley, Dt.P.from Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, read nutrition labels, reviewed countless reviews, and did some of our own testing to find the tastiest, healthiest dark chocolate bars.
Our top picks