Yes, you read it correctly! Eating dark chocolate has been proven to provide a number of health benefits to your body when consumed in moderation. This delicious treat is one of the most complex foods we consume, and dark chocolate contains over 300 natural chemicals, including one called phenylethylamine. Do you consider yourself a chocolate lover? You can thank phenylethylamine, which arouses similar feelings to love, which helps it to earn its nickname as the “love drug.”
Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is an antioxidant-rich superfood that can improve your mood, reduce your risk of heart disease, and may even help to prevent certain cancers. Dark chocolate is derived from dried and fermented beans of the cacao tree. Dark chocolate differs from milk chocolate because dark chocolate contains less than 12% milk solids, which allows for a higher content of healthy cacao.
There have been numerous studies that suggest dark chocolate may increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing heart disease, and offers may more benefits. Dark chocolate can raise your HDL, also known as your “good” cholesterol, and lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Additionally, cacao is beneficial for fighting off bacteria, which is the number one cause of cavities and tooth decay.
Fighting Cavities and Tooth Decay
Some new studies have suggested that dark chocolate is effective at fighting cavities, plaque, and tooth decay. Dark chocolate is an excellent source of polyphenols or natural chemicals that can limit oral bacteria from accumulating. These natural compounds also help to neutralize microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent some bacteria from turning sugar and starches into cavity-causing acids.
Research has also suggested that dark chocolate contains a compound called CBH that could be used in mouthwashes and toothpaste to help fight periodontal disease, much like fluoride.
What About Milk Chocolate?
If your tastebuds prefer the creamy taste of milk chocolate to dark chocolate, you may be wondering if you can reap the same benefits. In short, the answer is no. Milk chocolate contains milk and added sugars to increase sweetness and lower the cost of production. Some milk chocolate bars contain as little as 10% cacao, while chocolate is 70% cacao or higher.
How Much is Too Much?
We’ve stated that there is significant evidence that proves dark chocolate has a positive impact on your health; however, it should still be consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate still contains sugar (unless it is 100% cacao) which becomes food for harmful bacteria to feed on in your mouth. When bacteria eat your dietary sugar, they produce an acidic byproduct that leads to tooth decay. Dark chocolate is an excellent alternative dessert option, but like everything else you include in your diet, moderation is key. When reaching for a dark chocolate bar at the checkout stand, select one with a higher percentage of cacao.
Sugar Content at a Glance
For reference, here is a sugar content breakdown, per the USDA, for some of the most common chocolate types. While the numbers may not seem that different, over time, the additional sugars can become harmful to your teeth by increasing your risk of tooth decay and cavities.
White Chocolate: 17 grams per ounce
Milk Chocolate: 15 grams per ounce
Dark Chocolate: 14 grams per ounce
Preventing Tooth Decay While Indulging
Dark chocolate is an excellent option to reach for when you’re craving something sweet. When consumed in moderate amounts, you can enjoy both the rich flavor of dark chocolate and it’s health benefits. Maintain a healthy diet and perfect your at-home daily oral hygiene routine to prevent tooth decay while indulging in your favorite treats. Schedule your next routine cleaning with Hinsdale Dentistry today to learn more about the incredible benefits of dark chocolate.