Here’s what happens to your body if you eat dark chocolate every day, according to Registered Dietitians

If one of your health goals is to eat wholesome, nutrient-rich foods, you might assume that means saying goodbye to anything chocolatey. Good news: There’s a 100% place for chocolate in a balanced diet, especially if you go dark.

Eating dark chocolate in moderation, even every day, actually is Well for you. Intrigued? Here, registered dietitians explain the nutritional benefits of dark chocolate, what to keep in mind when shopping, and how you can expect your body to change if you swap out milk chocolate for dark chocolate for an everyday sweet treat.

Related: 56 Healthy Dessert Recipes That Will Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings All Summer Long

Is dark chocolate healthy?

Registered Dietitian Crystal Scott, RDN, explains that when eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is considered healthy. One reason why, he says, is because it’s rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are impossible to avoid. These toxic molecules are found in air pollutants, chemicals and inflammatory foods. These molecules put stress on the body and, over time, can lead to inflammation and disease.

Eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as dark chocolate, helps protect the body from free radicals. Dark chocolate is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and flavonoids, which studies show may play beneficial roles in the body, including fighting aging-related cellular damage, lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart disease, says a registered dietician e Primarily plant based author Mia Syn, RDN.

Both Syn and Scott say that dark chocolate also contains several minerals that benefit the body, especially iron, zinc and magnesium. Iron is very important for health. The body uses it to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of the body. Not getting enough can lead to feeling fatigued, experiencing gastrointestinal issues, and having trouble concentrating. Zinc is important because it supports immune health, and magnesium plays a role in energy production and nerve functioning.

Syn points out that while dark chocolate has these great nutrients, it can also be high in added sugar and saturated fat, both of which can take a toll on your health. Plus, it’s a source of caffeine, which can cause restlessness and insomnia when consumed in excess, he says. For these reasons, it’s best to consume dark chocolate in moderation.

Related: 52 delicious low-calorie desserts for when the sugar craving strikes

What happens if you eat dark chocolate every day?

If you’re a chocolate lover, there’s a good chance the type of chocolate you eat is milk chocolate, which is found more abundantly in the United States than dark chocolate because that’s what’s typically used in most candy bars. chocolate. The reason dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate is because milk chocolate is higher in sugar and saturated fat while lower in beneficial antioxidants and minerals. Meanwhile, dark chocolate has five times more antioxidants than milk chocolate.

If you eat milk chocolate every day, but start eating a serving of dark chocolate instead, dieticians say you can expect to experience some small but noticeable changes. One, Scott says, is that you’ll consume less sugar since dark chocolate has a lower amount than milk chocolate. That means you’ll be less prone to the ups and downs a sugar rush can bring, affecting both mood and energy levels.

You may also find it easier to focus because the antioxidants and iron in dark chocolate increase blood flow to the brain, which helps with cognitive function. The increased blood flow is also good for cardiovascular health, another perk you can expect to experience if you switch from milk to dark chocolate.

Related: 19 heart-healthy baking recipes that let you indulge without sugar spikes

Healthy ways to snack on dark chocolate

When shopping for dark chocolate, Scott says to pay attention to the cocoa percentage—the higher it is, the healthier your chocolate will be (he recommends choosing dark chocolates with a cocoa percentage of 70 percent or higher). Scott also shares that choosing organic dark chocolate will ensure minimal pesticide exposure. As with any food, he explains it’s important to check the ingredients list for added sugar, which should be avoided.

Dark chocolate can, of course, be enjoyed as it is, but it can also be paired with other healthy foods. Syn recommends melting it and using it to coat fruit, like bananas or strawberries. Scott says dark chocolate can be used as a topping for Greek yogurt or incorporated into trail mix, with protein-packed nuts. He also likes to use dark chocolate to make energy balls with dates and nuts, adding that another way to use dark chocolate is as a coating for chickpeas or almonds, creating a protein-packed snack.

Aren’t you relieved to know that you don’t have to give up chocolate to live a healthy lifestyle? Just remember to avoid products with added sugar and enjoy them in moderation this way, you will get the maximum health benefit from this delicious treat.

Next, here are 11 dark chocolate bars (rated) to consider buying.


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