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Does dark chocolate contain health benefits?

Does dark chocolate contain health benefits?
Dark chocolate
Is it actually healthy to eat dark chocolate? This is a question posed in a recent CNN article with the answer being a firm yes.

Many of us enjoy a piece of chocolate now and then, but a lot of us also feel rather guilty afterwards, often trying to rectify our snacking with a rejuvenating trip to a Yorkshire health spa. But should we be as worried if dark chocolate is what we crave?

Apparently not, as dark chocolate actually contains compounds that, instead of being detrimental to our bodies, instead offer health benefits. Meaning, as Lisa Drayer of CNN puts it, that dark chocolate “can be enjoyed without guilt, even on a daily basis.”

But, as with most foods, portion size does play a factor, as too many bites of that delicious chocolate can contribute extra fat, sugar, and calories, therefore combating the health benefits one would have received.

The healthy components of dark chocolate are known as flavanols, and at high levels, as Drayer describes: “cocoa flavanols have been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve cognition and possibly lower the risk of diabetes. Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa flavanols; milk chocolate has less, and white chocolate has none.”

One problem, however, is that manufacturers sometimes process chocolate to make it tastier. This includes roasting, which can also remove some of those aforementioned healthy compounds.

Matt Hartings, an assistant professor of chemistry at American University, comments: “Roasting generates all sorts of new flavors ... and to generate those flavors, you have to destroy molecules in the unroasted bean ... and there is always the chance that it is destroying compounds that we want around, including flavanols.”

And while the health benefits of dark chocolate will vary between brands as a result of this, you can take comfort in knowing that dark chocolate is still a healthier option compared to milk chocolate. So enjoy! But perhaps still keep that Sunday run and planned spa trip in your schedule.