Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

“Is dark chocolate healthy?”

A better question is… “What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?”

It always depends on the client.  Some women are highly sensitive to caffeine.  For those women, dark chocolate is not a good choice.  Some women don’t like dark chocolate.  Those women simply haven’t tried Nourrir Chocolate yet!

All kidding aside, dark chocolate has a wide variety of health benefits.  And, for people who are doing their best to reduce sugar, it can be a good choice as a “treat” that is low in sugar and has nourishing benefits.

Antioxidants

Cocoa contains 50 mg of polyphenols per gram, which is more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. (1)  Dark chocolate is more antioxidant dense than red wine, apples, and black tea – other foods that are also very high in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are essentially anti-aging chemicals.  They scavenge for reactive oxygen species (ROS), which cause “rust” in our systems due to oxidative stress.  High levels of ROS can overwhelm mitochondria causing fatigue and brain fog.  Antioxidants also reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Antioxidants combined with collagen (found in our Nourrir Chocolate),  improve skin and joint health. (2, 3, 4)

Sexual Health

In one fascinating study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (5), women who ate chocolate reported higher sexual function and desire.  However, when the data were further analyzed the women in the chocolate eating group were also younger.  So, it’s hard to say if eating chocolate is directly related to sexual desire and function, but it’s worth exploring!

Stress

In a controlled trial, women who consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate per day, rated their perceived stress levels to be less over a 2 week period.(6)  This effect was not seen as strongly in men.

Magnesium

Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)  provides 36mg of magnesium per 100kcal serving, more than three times the amount found in milk chocolate.(1)  Magnesium is essential for protein synthesis, muscle relaxation, and energy production.  Thus, the magnesium found in chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, headache, and muscle pain.

Iron

Dark chocolate is also high in iron.  Premenopausal women are at risk for iron deficiency, especially those with heavy menstrual cycles.  Dark chocolate provides 25% of the RDA (1.90mg) for iron. (1)

Fatigue

In a placebo controlled trial, eight weeks of daily consumption of dark chocolate has also been shown to increase scores on the The Chalder Fatigue Scale in those with chronic fatigue syndrome. Similarly, Hospital Anxiety and Depression scores improved in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who consumed the dark chocolate daily for 8 weeks – but, Hosptial Anxiety and Depression scores worsened with a placebo chocolate that was low in cocoa liquor and polyphenols.(7)

Thus, dark chocolate is a nourishing and delicious choice for most people.  To improve fatigue, stress, skin elasticity, and joint mobility, enjoy a few small squares each day.  Moderation is key!

Our Nourrir Chocolate combines the nourishment of dark chocolate with added protein from fresh almonds, and grass-fed collagen to enhance the skin, joint, metabolism and digestive benefits.  My goal as a nutritionist is to support women to enjoy food and life.

Rich, dark chocolate is the ultimate pleasure food!

Enjoy!

 

References:

  1. Katz, D. L., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 15(10), 2779–2811. http://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2010.3697
  2. Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. (2014) Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol, 27(1), 47-55. doi: 10.1159/000351376
  3. Borumand, M., & Sibilla, S. (2014). Daily consumption of the collagen supplement Pure Gold Collagen® reduces visible signs of aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 9, 1747–1758. http://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S65939
  4. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin, 24(5), 1485-96. doi: 10.1185/030079908X291967
  5. Salonia A, et al. (2006) Chocolate and women’s sexual health: An intriguing correlation. J Sex Med, 3(3), 476-82.
  6. Al Sunni, A., & Latif, R. (2014). Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. International Journal of Health Sciences, 8(4), 393–401.
  7. Sathyapalan, T., Beckett, S., Rigby, A. S., Mellor, D. D., & Atkin, S. L. (2010). High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate may reduce the burden of the symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome. Nutrition Journal, 9, 55. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-55

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