The Unexpected Effect Dark Chocolate Has On Your Heart

Dark chocolate has a long history, going back thousands of years. Made from the beans of the Theobroma cacao plant, uses for it date back to Mesoamerican cultures, according to the journal Nutrients. Many civilizations believed chocolate to be medicinal, using it to treat a variety of ailments including liver disorders, constipation, indigestion, and fatigue.

They might have been onto something, because it turns out that dark chocolate boasts some pretty impressive health benefits thanks to its antioxidant qualities. According to Everyday Health, dark chocolate can boost your mood and help with memory loss. The flavonoids in dark chocolate could also help regulate blood sugar and help stave off diabetes. It contains important nutrients such as potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium, which promote healthy skin and may help protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. If that's not enough, some evidence suggests that the flavonoids in dark chocolate could prevent cancer.

Dark chocolate's heart-healthy benefits

Dark chocolate is also good for your heart. The cocoa solids in it contain a type of flavonoid called flavanols, and they have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. According to Cleveland Health Clinic, flavanols lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and cause blood platelets to be less sticky. Research also shows that dark chocolate protects low-density lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidation, which should prevent it from building up in the arteries. One study published in Clinical Nutrition showed that cocoa reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 50%, and another published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that regular consumption lowered that risk by 57%.

Dark chocolate is calorie dense, so eat it in moderation. It is also quite bitter, so it might take some getting used to the flavor. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests allowing a small bite to dissolve on your tongue as you develop a taste for it.