Dark chocolate benefits come from its flavonoid contents. Procyanidins and epicatechins are the two types of flavonoids found in dark chocolate. Flavonoids are antioxidants that prevent oxidation of molecules by removing free radical intermediates. Oxidation can result in cell damage and, therefore cause many different diseases. Dark chocolate can also result in increased blood flow to the tissues.
The antioxidant of dark chocolate can have a great cardiovascular benefit. It lowers the bad cholesterol known as LDL that can result in plaques. It also affects the inflammatory markers in the blood that can push the plaque to dislodge and result in a cardiovascular event such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of flavonoids in dark chocolate can protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This happens because of the increase of blood flow to the brain tissue and therefore enhancing one’s cognitive function.
One of the fascinating properties of dark chocolate is the weight loss benefit. Recent studies have shown the effect of inflammation on weight loss and its effect on leptin, known as the satiety hormone. Flavonoids can help to decrease the inflammation and decrease the leptin level. The scent of chocolate also affects ghrelin which is an appetite suppresser hormone, therefore more weight loss benefits.
In addition to lowering LDL and decreasing free radicals, the Procyanidins in dark chocolate can result in impeding degradation of collagen. It can also help with vascular and capillary disorders such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, venous insufficiency and other similar diseases.
Chocolate can help with anxiety by decreasing cortisol level. Cortisol is known as the fight and flight hormone that increases during anxiety. Cortisol also can result in abdominal and visceral fat, therefore increasing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.
Dark chocolate can benefit healthier skin by increasing circulation to the capillaries that are under the skin, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the tissue, helping with hydration and protecting against sunburn.