What Are The Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate?

The percentages of cocoa in dark chocolate vary greatly and many studies have shown that some dark chocolate (in certain quantities) can have significant benefits for our health. The cocoa in dark chocolate is a natural source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and has potential benefits for your heart, brain, gut and overall health. It has several times more antioxidants than green tea and contains substances that may help lower blood pressure, regulate your cholesterol levels, brain function and help your body improve insulin sensitivity, or how well insulin works in your body. This, in turn, may help control blood sugar levels and may delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. There is evidence that suggests that the nutrients and antioxidants found in cocoa may help:

  • boost beneficial gut bacteria
  • improve cardiovascular health
  • improve cholesterol levels
  • improve mood and brain function
  • balance insulin production and sensitivity
  • promote healthier skin

Eating organic, unprocessed dark chocolate in moderation after a meal can be part of a healthy, balanced diet and can be a great way to satisfy a sweet craving without taking in refined sugar or saturated fat. But do keep in mind that the best way to understand what is good for your body is to learn more about your individual responses to different foods. For more information on a personalized diet, feel free to check here.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Keep in mind that some dark chocolate products have high levels of refined sugar and many additives, which are extra ingredients that can actually counteract any of the benefits. Flavored and lower-cocoa chocolates have more sugar and may contain artificial sweeteners as well as emulsifiers to bind the chocolate together- these ingredients are generally very bad for your gut microbes. When looking to buy dark chocolate, try to choose an organic, unprocessed dark chocolate to ensure that there are no unnecessary extra ingredients.

Some brands treat their chocolate with alkali (this is known as Dutch processing), which can reduce the cocoa’s naturally bitter flavor, but this process can also significantly decrease the antioxidant levels. The darker the chocolate, the more caffeine that it has, which may be something to consider if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Keep in mind that if you have certain digestive issues such as GERD, some experts suggest that chocolate may increase the risk of experiencing symptoms. Excessive consumption may increase caffeine levels in blood- causing increased heart rate, nausea, dehydration and insomnia. Eating high quality, non-processed dark chocolate that is high in cocoa (70% or more) in moderation is key. The time of day that you consume chocolate can be very important as well. Studies suggest that a small amount of dark chocolate in the mornings or evenings may help stabilize your blood sugar levels by limiting your sugar cravings!

What Is The Difference Between Cocoa And Cacao?

Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of cocoa. Both can be beneficial to your health but generally, it is best to choose the raw version (cacao), though this taste can take some getting used it. Cacao tastes slightly different than cocoa products and can taste more bitter- but try mixing it with other snacks such as mixed nuts to ease it into your diet! The level of nutrients in cacao products can vary based on how and where they were made. To enjoy the full benefits, eat in moderation and go for products that have minimal processing. Cacao products contain the following nutrients:

  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Flavonols
  • Amino Acid
  • Copper

Joaihú Dark Chocolate: Craft Brazilian Cacao

Joaihú is an ancient Tupi word that means “to love and be loved.” This dark chocolate brand is committed to making exceptionally high-quality chocolate that celebrates the dynamic flavors of Brazilian cacao and builds careers around environmental and social causes- working as artists, biologists and community organizers. Rather than growing in open fields, Joaihú’s cacao is nestled in the old growth of the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest. This method helps promote biodiversity and soil health which leads to better cacao and ultimately, better chocolate!

They use regenerative farming practices both in their cacao cultivation as well as in their agroforestry project. Joaihú takes land that was once used as cow pasture and creates diverse and abundant habitats. At the moment, 30 acres of their land is dedicated undisturbed preservation- this means that there is no construction or extraction within that area. Their goal is to continue land conservation and protect the remaining 8% of the Atlantic Coastal Rainforest. Get to know more about their farmers and operations right here!

At Joaihú, they focus on nutrient rich, dark chocolate. Their classic collection features 3 percentages: 75%, 85% and 100%. In their 75% and 85% bars, they use organic cacao, organic cacao butter and organic raw sugar. In their 100% bar, nothing else is added! Pure ingredients allow the full flavors of craft Brazilian cacao to really shine- where you may discover notes of caramel, berry and wine.

Discover the best from Brazil and explore their dark chocolate collection right here:

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