We will take any excuse to treat ourselves to some choccie, so we thought we’d ask our GMB Nutritionist Melissa Fine for five reasons why it’s good for you! Here’s what she had to say.
The fact that dark chocolate is better for you than milk choc is kind of old news, but other than it being lower in sugar than the milk variety, there’s a lot more that quality dark chocolate can do for your health than you might realise.
Dark chocolate can boost your mood
It’s not just in your head that dark chocolate puts some pep in your step… and not only because it tastes good! (Speaking of which, have you tried the Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Truffle from the September GMB?! It’s heaven).
Cocoa or cacao comes from the cacao bean (the seed of Theobroma cacao, the cacao tree), which is loaded with ‘theobromine’ - an all-natural compound with mood-boosting potential.
Dark chocolate can increase mental clarity
The theobromine in cacao has a similar structure to caffeine, and so serves as a central nervous stimulant; but due to slight structural differences, it provides mental stimulation without the side effect of caffeine jitters. So while caffeine can leave you feeling wired and anxious, dark chocolate can leave you feeling cool, calm and collected.
It can benefit cardiovascular (heart) health
Concentrated dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids – compounds naturally inherent to certain plants, the cacao bean included. Flavonoids boast a number of health benefits, from potentially lowering blood pressure, to reducing cardiovascular disease risk… that’s not to say you should go eat an entire 100g block of dark chocolate; less is more in the case of dark chocolate, so stick to two squares a day.
It’s rich in nutrients
Dark chocolate naturally contains a noteworthy amount of magnesium, iron, copper and manganese… two squares or 20g of the stuff even gives you around 2g of fibre… all this goodness makes sense seeing that cacao is a pure plant food.
Dark chocolate can curb a sweet tooth
…And without the sugar! Next time you’ve got a hankering for something sweet, go for a square or two of chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 70-85%. The more cocoa in a bar of chocolate, the less room there is for added sugar.
Quality dark chocolate isn’t the kind of chocolate that you’ll gobble up mindlessly. Make a cuppa, dip a square of dark choccie in it, and savour the lingering, bittersweet, flavour… because it’s the cocoa and not the sugar you’ll be tasting, you’ll find that two squares are super satisfying and more than enough – not typically the case with a bar of milk chocolate, with the high sugar content keeping you coming back for more.