Holidays, like the soon-approaching Easter, give us reason to embrace our love of chocolate. Besides satisfying your sweet tooth, did you know there might be some real benefits to eating chocolate? Is chocolate healthy or have some health benefits?
There is no question that sugar contributes to decay and other oral health issues. Doesn’t that mean chocolate is bad for your teeth? The answer is, that, yes, the sugar in chocolate is not good – especially the high sugar content in milk chocolate. However, dark chocolate has 70% less sugar than milk chocolate and has benefits that counteract the bad effects of its sugar.
What Are the Health Benefits of Chocolate?
The higher the cocoa content the more beneficial the chocolate. Most chocolates state the cocoa content on the wrapper, and studies indicate that for best results it should be over 70%. Those benefits include:
- Antioxidants. Dark chocolate has four times the antioxidants of green tea. These help reduce inflammation and swelling of the gums, and inhibit plaque production. Antioxidants are good for the rest of your body as well, especially for good heart health and as a cancer preventative.
- Flavinoids. Dark chocolate contains a flavonoid, epicatechin, which studies have shown helps prevent cavities. Some researchers believe that the flavonoids, and other compounds in chocolate, may be better at fighting cavities than fluoride.
- Tannins. These plant compounds give dark chocolate its dark color and slightly bitter taste. They also bind with bacteria, which helps stop the bacteria from forming plaque.
- Polyphenols. The higher the cocoa content, the more of this natural chemical in the chocolate. Polyphenols help fight bad breath and prevent bacteria from turning sugar into tooth-destroying acid.
Don’t Be Quick to Avoid Dental Checkups!
This is happy news to all of us chocolate lovers, but it doesn’t translate to “a chocolate a day will keep the dentist away!” Although we can now enjoy our delicious dark chocolate treats with less guilt, regular brushing and flossing is always necessary. And, scheduling regular checkups to catch little problems before they become big issues is always a smart precaution.