Treat Yourself: The Benefits of Dark Chocolate and Its Rich Anti-Oxidants

Dark chocolate has long been a controversial treat. However, the studies are in, and we can now collectively rejoice in the health effects of dark chocolate. You can now start consuming your favorite snack in nutrition bars and meal replacement bars until your heart’s content.

We’re about to break down exactly what’s in dark chocolate, how much you should eat, and why it’s so good for you.

What Is in Dark Chocolate that Makes It Healthy?

fitness barThe number one factor that makes dark chocolate healthy are two flavonoids called procyanidin and epicatechin. Both of these flavonoids are types of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It’s believed that damage by free radicles contributes to aging, inflammation, chronic disease and even brain dysfunction. Choosing the best snack bars that contain dark chocolate can help prevent these outcomes.

Dark chocolate isn’t just a one-hit wonder, however. Consuming dark chocolate may also:

  • Decrease LDL cholesterol oxidation
  • Reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Improve mood by boosting endorphin levels in the brain
  • Improve cognitive performance in the elderly
  • Increase blood flow in arteries

Due to all of these benefits, the best bars for weight loss, high energy bars, and the best meal replacement bars often contain dark chocolate in their recipe. Check out the ingredients of top nutrition bar brands, and you’ll discover dark chocolate is a common ingredient.

What Exactly Is Dark Chocolate?

What’s in chocolate that makes it so healthy and delicious? Well, first we must look examine where chocolate comes from. The tree Theobroma cacao is responsible for producing cocoa beans, which are then fermented, dried and roasted to produce cocoa. This cocoa can then be used to produce a variety of food products, from cocoa butter to chocolate bars we all know and love.

balance bar nutritionDark chocolate, which is also known as bittersweet chocolate, contains a high percentage of cocoa solids (greater than 60 percent) and has very little added sugar. Dark chocolate is known for having a rich flavor and is commonly found in a perfect nutrition bar. In fact, it adds something to the balance bar nutrition that other ingredients cannot: antioxidants.

Are There Any Downsides to Consuming Dark Chocolate?

There are three distinct downsides that come from consuming too much chocolate, dark or otherwise:

  1. Caffeine content.Dark chocolate contains measurable amounts of caffeine. People who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine should use caution when adding dark chocolate to their diet.
  2. Kidney stones.Dark chocolate also contains oxalates, a substance that can increase the excretion of urinary oxalate, which can in turn risk the formation of kidney stones. Thus, anyone who is at risk of developing kidney stones should avoid oxalates in their food.
  3. A chemical found in dark chocolate, tyramine, is believed to catalyze migraines. However, there isn’t enough data to make this a firm fact; it’s merely a suspicion. People who are common sufferers of migraines have reported that dark chocolate can trigger them.

Only those with a caffeine sensitive, or who are prone to kidney stones, or who suffer from headaches should worry about how much dark chocolate they intake.

What Should I Look for in Dark Chocolate?

Not all dark chocolate is created equally. You’ll need to invest in top quality dark chocolate to reap the rewards it provides:

  • Must have >60% cocoa (the higher, the better)
  • Must be made from cocoa butter, not from coconut oils, which can diminish the cholesterol benefits
  • Must be made without the use of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which can also harm your cholesterol
  • Not required, but chocolate made from fairly traded and organic cocoa beans is preferred

The best meal bars you can find will make use of only the best dark chocolate. Examine the ingredients carefully to ensure that the bars you buy only use the best ingredients available.

Common Benefits of Consuming Dark Chocolate

There are dozens of benefits that come with consuming dark chocolate in any form. You’re about to discover why dark chocolate is one of the most popular ingredients for health-conscious chefs and consumers.

  • Increased libido.Energy bar brands make use of dark chocolate because it can increase your libido. Dark chocolate contains l-arginine, which is a natural enhancer for both men and women. It increases the blood flow to sexual organs, enhancing sensation and satisfaction.
  • Manage your weight.That’s right, eating chocolate can help you manage your weight. That’s why the best snack bars for weight loss typically contain a healthy amount of dark chocolate. While gorging on dark chocolate bars isn’t going to shed the pounds alone, it’s believed that dark chocolate helps balance your blood sugar levels, which does contribute to weight loss.
  • Improved heart health.You’ll find the nutrition bar that’s right for you will have dark chocolate. Why? Because it also helps improve the health of your heart. The flavanols found in dark chocolate have been shown to improve your heart by increasing blood flow to the heart, as well as reducing blood pressure.

To truly experience the health effects of dark chocolate, it should be consumed regularly. Interested in reaping the rewards of dark chocolate? Order your best energy bars now from Santa Barbara Bar!