If you are like me, you love to eat chocolate. But not just any chocolate, like varieties that are often called “superfoods.” I’m talking about dark chocolate, which are truly healthy chocolate forms if you choose the right products. I’m probably thinking, is dark chocolate good for me? Well, I’m about to tell you all about dark chocolate and how the benefits of dark chocolate are definitely real. He eats a lot of chocolate regularly, so I want to help you make the smart and healthy decision. That way you can have your chocolate without guilt and with health benefits of dark chocolate to boot! Chocolate lovers rejoice when talking about the benefits of antioxidants found in chocolate, but it is important to realize that not all chocolates are the same, not even close. The potential health benefits of processed and highly sweetened chocolate are scarce or nil, but the health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and quite impressive.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
The main benefits of dark chocolate are:
1. Protection Against Free Radicals That Cause Diseases:
One of my favorite benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to fight free radicals. Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that fight the environmental toxins to which we are exposed daily. Antioxidants are compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from damage. Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals , useful plant compounds. One of the most impressive attributes of dark chocolate is its high antioxidant content. Two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. It has been shown that dark chocolate cocoa has the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even more than wine and tea. Therefore, the higher the cocoa / cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more impressive antioxidants you will consume.
2. Prevention of Potential Cancer:
It may be hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you eat and love can also help you prevent cancer. That’s right; one of the benefits of dark chocolate is its potential as a food to fight cancer.
3. Improvement of Heart Health:
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoids found in dark chocolate. Research has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain. Dark chocolate flavanols can also help blood platelets become less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and strokes. On the other hand, white chocolate with zero flavonoids to show off had no positive effects on the subjects’ health. Another study followed the health of more than 20,000 people for 11 years. The study concluded that “the accumulated evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events” and that “there seems to be no evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk. Among subjects who consumed more chocolate, 12 percent developed or died of cardiovascular disease during the study, compared with 17.4 percent of those who did not eat chocolate. This does not give anyone the license to eat a chocolate bar every day, but it is impressive that this extensive and long study seems to show a positive connection between chocolate consumption and heart health.
4. Good for the General Cholesterol Profile:
It is true that stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid seems to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means that it does not raise or lower it. The palmitic acid in dark chocolate can increase cholesterol levels, but fortunately it is only made up of a small portion of the fat in dark chocolate;
“In addition, dark chocolate has a large amount of plant nutrients that compensate for palmitic acid”.
One study analyzed the effects of dark chocolate on 28 healthy volunteers. The researchers found that only one week of dark chocolate consumption improved lipid profiles and decreased platelet reactivity for both men and women, while reducing inflammation only in women.
Studies Have Also Shown That:
- Dark chocolate cocoa polyphenols may be involved in cholesterol control.
- Three-week consumption of dark chocolate rich in polyphenol increased HDL (good) cholesterol.
- The consumption of 15 days of dark chocolate rich in polyphenols resulted in a decrease in total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol of 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.
- Consumption of regular dark chocolate for seven days resulted in a 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol and a 9% increase in HDL cholesterol.
5. Better Cognitive Function:
Previous research showed that “acute and chronic ingestion of cocoa rich in flavanol is associated with increased blood flow to brain gray matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols may be beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, such as dementia and stroke.” One study demonstrated the ability of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate to improve cognitive ability, specifically in the elderly. This cross-sectional study of more than 2,000 participants aged 70 to 74 analyzed the relationship between the intake of chocolate, wine and tea (all rich in flavonoids) and cognitive performance. The researchers suggest that additional studies should take into account other bioactive substances. Dietary substances in chocolate, wine and tea to ensure that its flavonoid content helps the brain so much.
6. Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Help:
One study compared the consumption of white chocolate from type 2 diabetics versus dark chocolate rich in cocoa-rich polyphenol. The subjects consumed 25 grams (a little less than an ounce) of dark or white chocolate for eight weeks. The researchers found that dark chocolate not only lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive diabetics, but also lowered fasting blood sugar. Of course, if you are diabetic, the higher the cocoa content, which also means that the lower the sugar content, the better. It is also key to note that this was a very small amount of dark chocolate per day at 0.88 ounces.
7. Super Antioxidant Rich Superfood:
In one study, the total content of flavanol and polyphenol was analyzed, as well as the antioxidant activity content of dark chocolate and cocoa powder were compared with super fruits such as acai, cranberry, cranberry and pomegranate. The dark chocolates, cocoa powders and cocoa drink in the study contained natural or non-alkalized cocoa. It is important to note this, since it has been shown that the alkalization of cocoa destroys healthy polyphenolic compounds. So what did the study show? The researchers found that the flavanol content of cocoa powder (30.1 milligrams per gram) was significantly higher than all other super fruit powders. It was also revealed that the antioxidant capacity of dark chocolate was higher than that of all super fruit juices, except pomegranate. The total polyphenol content per serving was also higher for dark chocolate (approximately 1,000 milligrams per serving), which was significantly higher than all fruit juices, except pomegranate juice.
8. Potential Vision Enhancer:
While it may be too early to truly enumerate the improvements in vision as a concrete benefit of dark chocolate, a clinical trial in humans, noted how the contrast sensitivity and visual acuity of thirty participants without pathological eye disease changed after consuming Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. The researchers found that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were greater two hours after eating a dark chocolate bar compared to eating milk chocolate. The study, however, concludes that the duration of these effects and their implications in the real world require additional evidence.
Definition of Dark Chocolate?
There are several types of chocolate, as you probably already know. Most people divide chocolate into three categories: white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Actually, the FDA does not have an identity standard for dark chocolate, but the general consensus is that dark chocolate generally contains between 70 and 99 percent cocoa solids or pure cocoa. Some set the standard for dark chocolate even lower at 60 percent or less. This can be done since there is no standard set at this time. All chocolate begins as cocoa beans harvested from the seed pods of the plant. Once harvested, cocoa beans are normally fermented and dried before being sent to factories for later production. Pure cocoa and pure cocoa powder have antioxidants and health benefits. However, raw cocoa powder is different because it does not suffer any warming and, therefore, has more nutrients and healthy properties. Raw cocoa powder is obtained by cold pressing the unroasted cocoa beans, so it retains more of its natural goodness, while cocoa powder is usually heated to much higher temperatures. The covered cocoa is also washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes its acidity, which gives it a darker color and a softer flavor.
Dark chocolate is also known as semi-sweet chocolate, while extra dark chocolate is often considered the same as bittersweet chocolate, although the proportion of cocoa butter to solids can vary between different varieties. According to the FDA, semi-sweet chocolate or sweet and sour chocolate is a sweet chocolate that contains no less than 35 percent (by weight) pure cocoa. Both semi-sweet and bittersweet are commonly used in cooking, and although the FDA defines them in the same way, bittersweet chocolate generally has a deeper and less sweet taste than semi-sweet chocolate. Unsweetened or bakery chocolate is usually almost 100 percent cocoa without any sweetness. Due to the higher cocoa content, dark chocolate has a much richer flavor than milk chocolate. The more cocoa the chocolate has, the better its quality and of course its flavor. Cocoa is naturally bitter and has a very strong flavor. Chocolate makers (especially milk chocolate makers) soften this flavor through processes such as alkalinization, fermentation, roasting and the addition of milk and / or sugar, all of which can destroy healthy flavanols, alter our ability to Use them or cancel your health. Effects all together with unhealthy additives. Legally, milk chocolate only needs to be at least 10 percent pure chocolate with at least 3.39 percent milk fat and at least 12 percent milk solids.
Milk proteins can reduce the absorption of healthy antioxidants from cocoa, all this has been proven through various investigations carried out to date. What is the problem with milk? Milk actually seems to bind to flavonoids in chocolate, which makes them unavailable to our bodies. For this reason, milk or milk chocolate is considered not a good source of antioxidants. That’s also why you don’t want to drink milk with your dark chocolate. White chocolate is even worse than milk chocolate. White “chocolate” is not properly chocolate for the simple reason that it does not have cocoa solids; it only contains certain amounts of cocoa butter. I only recommend eating small amounts of minimally processed dark chocolate with at least a cocoa content of 70 percent or more. This type of chocolate is a healthy chocolate that contains the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar, providing the highest benefits you can get from dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition:
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are not really grains. They are the seeds of the Theobroma cocoa fruit. To make dark chocolate, you must dry the cocoa beans and then process them to produce the resulting hardened bars. I wouldn’t think a chocolate bar could be nutritious, but the nutrition of dark chocolate is really impressive, especially when it comes to fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese and copper. The benefits of dark chocolate abound thanks to all this goodness. Only one ounce of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cocoa solids contains about:
- 168 calories
- 8 grams of carbohydrates
- 2 grams of protein
- 12 grams of fat
- 1 grams of fiber
- 5 milligrams of manganese (27 percent DV)
- 5 milligrams of copper (25 percent DV)
- 3 milligrams of iron (19 percent DV)
- 8 milligrams of magnesium (16 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
- 200 milligrams of potassium (6 percent DV)
- 9 milligrams of zinc (6 percent DV)
- 2 micrograms of vitamin K (3 percent DV)
- 9 micrograms of selenium (3 percent DV)
- 4 milligrams of calcium (2 percent DV)
History of Dark Chocolate:
It is believed that the long history of chocolate dates back to 1900 BC This is when the Aztec civilization believed that cocoa beans were a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom. They used the seeds to prepare a bitter and frothy drink that also included spices, wine or corn puree. It was very different from today’s super sweet milk chocolate candies, but closer to a minimally processed dark chocolate made from raw cocoa. It was in 1847 that a British chocolate company created the first solid edible chocolate bar from three ingredients: cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Big names like Cadbury, Mars and Hershey entered the scene in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The love for chocolate has only continued to grow over the years. Now, many traditional chocolate producers make “dark chocolate” that really isn’t very healthy. On the other hand, there are now more and more companies that produce high quality chocolate, with high cocoa / cocoa content, which is not only dark, but also organic and fair trade. There is no doubt that dark chocolate is a trend in today’s market, and sales do not seem to be declining in the short term. In recent years, the chocolate industry has undergone a shift towards premium and certified organic dark chocolate, specifically products that are unique in origin; they are high in cocoa and use natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia, yacon or coconut sugar; as well as a greater sustainable supply and labeling of origin. As science shows more and more benefits of dark chocolate, its popularity will only continue to grow.
Precautions of Dark Chocolate:
To avoid excess dark chocolate and get the benefits of dark chocolate, it is a good idea to eat a piece only after a solid meal or include it in a recipe. If you are sensitive to caffeine or if you are looking to avoid caffeine altogether, it is important that you know that there are measurable amounts of caffeine in dark chocolate. Side effects of caffeine can include nervousness, increased urination, insomnia and rapid heartbeats, all reasons to avoid caffeine overdose.
Chocolate can also Cause the Following Things:
- allergic skin reactions
- colic in babies
- decrease in bone density
- dental caries
- increased cholesterol levels
- increased insulin levels
- irregular heart rhythms
- irritable bowel syndrome
- Damage and kidney disorders.
- nausea and vomiting
- Neck Pain
- sleep disorders
- stomach noises and upset stomach
- swelling under the skin
- Unpleasant taste
- weight gain
This is a long list, but all these possible side effects can usually be avoided by not consuming too much dark chocolate. Women who are pregnant, nursing or trying to get pregnant should also make sure that they do not consume large amounts of chocolate. In moderation, dark chocolate is considered safe for pregnant women. If you are allergic or have an intolerance to dairy products, be very careful with reading the label and research before choosing your dark chocolate. Another possible allergen to consider in dark chocolate (even organic brands) is soy lecithin, which is commonly added as an emulsifying agent. Dark chocolate is not a low-calorie or low-fat food, so these are other good reasons not to overdo it. The taste is so rich that you can enjoy it and get the benefits of dark chocolate with just a little piece. So, is dark chocolate good for you? Surely yes, as long as you choose the right product. When you choose the best and the healthiest option, there are many amazing benefits of dark chocolate.