Yes, Dark Chocolate, and more importantly chocolate with a Cacao content of 72% or higher is not only good for you it can help prevent some pretty nasty ailments.
I’ve been eating Dark Chocolate for about 2 years now. I was first turned on to it by Mark of Primal Blueprint fame, when he convinced me to give it and try it as a supplement to my diet, because it had so many benefits and was a nice replacement for this choco-holic who just quit his long-term sweet-addiction.
I started with 72% (and would recommend at least 70%), which today I’d say is a bit to sweet for me and a bit high in sugar. I slowly graduated up over time to an 86% Cacao (you can find it at Trader Joes if you have one close by) which is the highest I’ve been able to find.
I imagine if you ate cacao-nibs, you can increase the Cacao percentage, but I’ve not yet found a way to easily integrate those little guys into my diet. I’ve tried them and the experience was a little like chewing on little wood bits that had a slight chocolate flavor. I guess people who use them a lot use them in homemade shakes and smoothies. Evidently some people also throw them into savory dishes. Any way you can get them into your diet is a good thing and once you read all of the health benefits of Dark Chocolate I might have you convinced as well.
Dr Mark Hyman, in his great book Ultrametabolism recommends you eat between 1-3 ounces of dark chocolate everyday day. I’d like to add, that when you do so, make sure that it is after a meal or eaten with some other lower glycemic foods to help minimize the glycemic load of the chocolate. Even the very high cacao content chocolate has a pretty high level of sugar.
Another tip to keep in mind is that it’s very easy to go overboard on this super-food. When you are going to eat dark chocolate ration out your 1-3 ounces and put away the rest. You’ll be glad you did. I know, speaking from experience, I’ve gone overboard on more than one occasion in the name of super-food consumption.
Here are just some of the benefits of Dark Chocolate:
- Dark Chocolate contains healthy fats. Mostly monounsaturated and saturated fat, with very little polyunsaturated fat. Most of the saturated fat is stearic acid widely know to have no bad effects on LDL cholesterol, so you don’t have to have any guilt to enjoy cacao fat.
- Dark Chocolate is loaded with Polyphenols too. In particular flavanols. When it comes to polyphenols & antioxidant capacity, Dark Chocolate blows away any other super-food. The most studied polyphenol in cacao is epicatechin, a flavanol that is highly potent and potentially healthy for humans.
- Dark Chocolate lowers your blood pressure too. Epidemiological studies consistently show that dark chocolate consumption is related with lower blood pressure readings. One study even found that eating dark chocolate for 15 days straight, lowered blood pressure and insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects.
- Cacao consumption has been proven to improve arterial flow of blood in smokers.
- Dark Chocolate can reduce cardiovascular disease.
- Dark Chocolate lowered insulin resistance in diabetic patients (in addition to lowering blood pressure).
- Dark chocolate is good for folks who have a fatty liver (some of us who have been eating sugar in high doses all of our lives are in this camp). The chocolate can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation as well.
- Dark chocolate can help increase our body’s natural defense against UV exposure. In several studies recently it’s been proven that eating dark chocolate can increase our natural defense against the harmful affects of the sun by as much as double. So, you could stay out twice as long without sun-damage.
So, go eat some dark chocolate with dinner tonight. Make sure it’s high in cacao (70%+) and low in sugar. Eat it with your meal and feel good knowing you just took in some of the best tasting medicine on the planet. Thank you God for the gift of Dark Chocolate.
So, what’s your favorite dark chocolate recipe? Have you tried 86% Cacao ye? Tell me about your experiences with Dark Chocolate below in the comments.