Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants. In fact it has a number of health benefits. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which contain more flavonols and polyphenols than many other fruit and vegetables. It also contains calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium making it helpful for maintaining your immune system and strong, healthy bones and teeth.
In the form of dark chocolate or cocoa powder, there is more antioxidant capacity than in many fruit juices. However, hot chocolate, due to the alkalisation process, contains little, if any.
Numerous studies have shown that the flavanols in chocolate lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, blood clots and strokes, compared with individuals who do not eat chocolate. One particular study showed that people who ate chocolate once per week, were 22% less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate.
A second study found that people who ate 50g of chocolate once per week, were 46% less likely to die following a stroke than people who didn’t eat chocolate at all.
A German study published in the European Heart Journal showed that those people who averaged at least 7.5g per day of chocolate were nearly 40% less likely to have a heart attack, compared with those who ate only 1.7g per day on average.
Just having a single square of chocolate per day can make all the difference!
The main thing is to avoid drastically increasing your calorie intake, and the closer the chocolate is to unrefined pure cocoa, the better. Try to opt for the chocolate that is 70% or greater cocoa. Processing the chocolate to sweeten it, such as in the case of milk chocolate or white chocolate, substantially reduces its effectiveness.