The health benefits of dark chocolate

The Mayans and the Aztecs knew cacao had medicinal and energetic properties

The health benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is perhaps one of the healthiest treats - Photo: Yelena Yemchuk/EL UNIVERSAL
English 07/07/2019 12:28 Newsroom Mexico City Fernanda Alvarado Actualizada 12:37
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Chocolate is one of the most delicious treats in the world and its origins go back to centuries ago, when Mesoamerican civilizations, including the Mayans and the Aztecs, who planted and harvested cacao and used it as a food with medicinal and energetic properties.

Furthermore, chocolate is not only delicious, but it's also rich in antioxidants and several studies have shown that dark chocolate has great health benefits.

It's beneficial for cardiovascular health

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, a substance can improve the blood flow and lower blood pressure, it also increases HDL cholesterol, also known as “good cholesterol” and lower LDL cholesterol, “bad cholesterol.” It also has a great anti-inflammatory effect. This is quite significant since inflammation causes several chronic diseases, such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, strokes, kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Anti-aging effect

The bioactive compounds found in dark chocolate can protect you from the negative effects of UV radiation, especially since the sun is one of the main factors behind premature aging, therefore, cacao can be a great ally to improve the skin's texture, density, thickness, and prevent the early onset of wrinkles.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the majority of these benefits are found in unprocessed cacao and rarely in commercial chocolate bars, therefore, dark chocolate and cacao nibs are the best options.

It improves cognitive functions

The regular consumption of cacao could improve brain functions and verbal fluency, as well as the cognitive functions in people with certain types of intellectual disabilities. On the other hand, chocolate contains substances that stimulate the nervous system, so we are alert and our brain functions improve in the short term.

We recommend:

1. Good quality chocolates, with at least 70% cacao

2. Chose those that don't contain cream, milk, or sugar

3. Avoid commercial chocolate bars because they contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients

4. Powdered cacao, without sugar, is a great option for milkshakes, desserts, and other dishes

5. Chocolate must be stored apart from other foods, as it can easily absorb odors


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