7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

2. Powerful Source of Antioxidants

ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.” It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods.

Basically, researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of a food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” the radicals.

The biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, because it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.

However, it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested.Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.

One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries (2).

SUMMARYCocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants. In fact, they have way more than most other foods.

3. May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO) (3).Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure.

Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, though the effects are usually mild (4567).

However, one study in people with high blood pressure showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt (8).

SUMMARYThe bioactive compounds in cocoa may improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.

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