Chocolate is a popular treat, but it only sometimes has a reputation as healthy. It is mainly because of the various chocolate products that emphasize their sweetness. However, one type of chocolate has some general health benefits. Dark chocolate sets itself apart from the usual product sold in stores because it does not have the typical additives found in them. It means that dark chocolate is the purest form of chocolate, and there are several benefits to that. For comparison, the standard milk chocolate sold on store shelves has a maximum of 50 percent cocoa solids as an ingredient. Dark chocolate has that amount as a minimum, with a maximum of 90 percent.
Chocolate comes from cacao seeds and is naturally not sweet. Without the sweeteners, it tastes slightly bitter. However, this also means those who eat it will get its full nutritional content without the extra ingredients. It is surprising how nutritious dark chocolate is. Nutritionists point out that it has some essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron. Additionally, cocoa seeds have many antioxidants, with flavonoids at the top of the list. Eating dark chocolate regularly will have several health benefits, and here are some of them.
Lowers Blood Pressure
The presence of flavonoids in dark chocolate is what makes it so effective when it comes to lowering blood pressure. It is an antioxidant that also stimulates nitric oxide production in the body. When this chemical hits the bloodstream, it can improve the blood flow in arteries and ensure a lower chance of blood clots. Since hypertension is usually the result of poor blood flow, these changes can significantly help anyone suffering from the condition.
This exciting discovery comes from a study on an isolated tribe in Panama. While in their tribal territories, hypertension was not a very common occurrence among them. Even the elderly often had normal blood pressure even with a high salt intake. However, when members of the tribe moved to an urban environment, their blood pressure went up. The big difference is that the tribe traditionally drank five cups of cocoa daily. These were not store-bought brands but pure chocolate products made from beans. When the immigrants stopped drinking cocoa, their blood pressure and incidence of heart disease increased.