The health benefits of dark chocolate stem directly from the cocoa beans. Dark chocolate is made from pure cocoa beans (which contain high levels of antioxidants) and minimal to no sugar. High absorption of magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, zinc, resveratrol, vitamin A, niacin and phosphorus are the start of the benefits of eating chocolate regularly.
And that's just some of the ingredients and antioxidants in dark chocolate.
Natural dark chocolate truly is a "health food" - especially in its raw form as natural organic cocoa beans, or as dark chocolate made WITHOUT dairy products or refined sugar.
The problems so often associated with chocolate are caused by the substances added to it - the refined sugar, dairy products, milk solids, bad fats, waxes, and chemicals.
Dark Chocolate and the Resveratrol Health Benefits
A study in the journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (September 2008)found that cocoa powder, baking chocolate and dark chocolate all have significant levels of resveratrol, a naturally occurring antioxidant.
"Cocoa is a highly complex natural food which contains in excess of seven hundred naturally occurring compounds, with many more yet to be discovered," explains Jeff Hurst, the lead chemist on the project. "For years, flavanols, a different class of compounds in chocolate, received most of the attention, but these are quite different than resveratrol. It is exciting to see additional antioxidants identified in cocoa and chocolate."
In the study, six product categories were examined: cocoa powder, baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet baking chips, milk chocolate, and chocolate syrup. Gram for gram, cocoa powder had the highest average amount of resveratrol, followed by baking chocolates, dark chocolates, semi-sweet chips, milk chocolate and then chocolate syrup.
On an equal weight basis, cocoa powder had about half as much trans-resveratrol as the average California red wine**. On a per serving basis, cocoa-containing and chocolate products had less trans-resveratrol than red wine and grape juice but more than roasted peanuts.
** California Red Wines typically have more resveratrol than those in Australia or South Africa, but they are not the wines with the most resveratrol. To learn that. . . Visit our Healthies Wines Page!
Dark Chocolate aids the sex drive, too
It just so happens dark chocolate increases the production of serotonin - one of the brain's feel good chemicals. If you're looking to get into the mood - give dark chocolate a try.
Combine that with the knowledge that a square per day can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke by 39 percent - according to German researchers. Move over Viagra - we've got the health benefits of dark chocolate.