Just the thought of chocolate is enough to evoke an orgasmic explosion in the mouth. Chocolate lovers don’t need any reason to devour the delicious treat, for them, it is a celebration in itself.
For those who love chocolates and can’t resist the temptation, there is some good news despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain. A new study suggests that this delicious treat is good for your health and offers many health benefits.
Let us explore this mysterious addiction called chocolate, its medicinal properties and sheer pleasure which people have enjoyed for the last 4000 years.
Not All Chocolates Are healthy
No doubt you are aware that eating chocolate is good for your health. It is good for the heart, boosts brain power, is a stress buster, and helps lose weight.
You are right, chocolate is referred to as SUPERFOOD and it is great for your health, but hold on. Not all chocolates are healthy and equal.
Chocolates can be broadly classified into three categories.
Many studies suggest that dark chocolates offers the most health benefits when compared with milk or white chocolates.
Surprisingly, people spend more than $75 billion on chocolates annually worldwide and Americans consume an estimated 12 pounds of chocolates per capita each year.
Unfortunately, most of this consumption is in the form of milk or white chocolate bars which are very low on healthy cacao.
Moreover, candy chocolates are loaded with sugar and highly processed like roasting, fermenting, alkalizing etc. The more chocolate is processed the more it looses healthy elements and antioxidants like flavanols.
Food companies process cocoa to make chocolates smooth, creamy and delicious because cocoa has a very strong and pungent taste which comes from the antioxidants, flavanols.
When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker, the higher the cacao content and higher healthy elements.
So what sets dark chocolate apart from its more delicious siblings (milk and white)?
Dark chocolates are loaded with organic compounds like polyphenols, flavanols, catechins which are biologically active and function as antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate Nutritional Facts
The nutrition profile is quite impressive and can be compared with other superfoods. Take a closer look how an ounce of dark chocolate stacks up.
|An Ounce of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao|
|Fat – total||12 g|
|Dietary Fiber||3.1 g|
|Vitamins & Minerals|
|Vitamin K||2 microg||3%|
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
A cursory glance at some of the health benefits.
|✓ Anti-inflammatory reduces inflammation in the body and the risk of many diseases.||✓ Anti-carcinogenic, Studies show that cocoa can lower the risk of certain types of cancer.|
|✓ Cardioprotective helps lower blood pressure, improves lipid profile, and helps prevent atrial fibrillation||✓ Anti-thrombotic: reduces blood clotting|
|✓ Many neuroprotective benefits and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s||✓ Helps prevent and control diabetes|
|✓ Offers anti-obesity benefits||✓ Improves liver function for those with cirrhosis|
|✓ Improves skin and protects against UV damage||✓ Improves gastrointestinal flora|
|✓ May help extend lifespan||✓ Improves exercise endurance|
|✓ Reduces stress hormones||✓ Protects vision and reduces symptoms of glaucoma and diabetes-induced cataracts|
7 Dark Chocolate Benefits You Should Definitely Know
1. Antioxidants In Dark Chocolates Protect from Diseases Caused By Free Radicals
Dark chocolate is not only a to-die-for treat, it’s actually extremely good for your health. It is extremely rich in antioxidants flavonoids and polyphenols. Just 1 oz of it packs more than twice the healthy antioxidants punch of red wine, blueberries, acai berries, even green and other kinds of teas.
Flavonoids are antioxidant compounds called flavonols which give the pungent taste to cocoa. According to a UC Davis Department of Nutrition fact sheet, flavonols have shown to be effective in scavenging free radicals. Flavanols help increase antioxidant activity in blood cells and decrease DNA damage. In other words, reduces oxidation stress.
Polyphenols are the second group of antioxidants in dark chocolates. Cocoa beans have a very high concentration of polyphenols which gives it the bitter flavor and makes them virtually inedible. In a final cocoa product such as chocolate, polyphenol content might have been decreased from 100% to 10%.
According to many studies, polyphenols increase the plasma levels of antioxidants. Cocoa polyphenols offer many human health benefits which include prevention of cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, immune disorders and even cancer prevention.
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2. Dark Chocolate Improves Heart Health
A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate 100 g of chocolate a day, showed reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzymes. Insulin sensitivity is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
According to Cleveland Clinic research, flavanols play a very positive effect on heart health. It helps blood flow to the heart and brain by lowering blood pressure. Flavanols in dark chocolate also reduce the blood platelets stickiness which results in lesser clotting and hence reducing the chances of stroke.
In another study in which 470 elderly men participated in the Zutphen Elderly Study, found that cocoa reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period
Another study revealed that consuming dark chocolate at least twice a week reduced the risk of having blocked arteries by 32%.
3. Dark Chocolate May Prevent Certain Cancers
Who doesn’t live with the fear of developing cancer? probably we all believe that cancer cannot happen to them until it happens.
Eating dark chocolates with more than 70% cacao can give you an amazing benefit of preventing certain cancers and slow down the growth of cancer cells.
It is still not established for sure whether chocolates have anti-cancer properties. However, existing data does show that flavonoids could be considered as an approach for cancer prevention.
4. Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Brain Health
Another reason why flavonoids in dark chocolates can play an important role in your overall health.
According to a study, it boosts blood flow to the brain and boosts memory and cognitive skills. Increased blood flow to the brain may help short-term memory and prevent mental decline in seniors.
5. Dark Chocolates Help Elevate Moods
Dark chocolates can make you feel happy and diminish the negative effects of stress.
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which encourages your brain to release endorphins. PEA is the chemical which brings the feeling of pleasure like the way you feel when you are falling in love.
Chocolate is a top dietary source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin. the neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood.
Serotonin plays a vital role in positive mood, appetite, sleep. It is the neurotransmitter of happiness. One of the major causes of depression is believed to be low levels of serotonin.
6. Dark Chocolates Can Be Stress Buster
What could be a better way to de-stress while enjoying the goodness of dark chocolate.
According to a clinical trial published in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for just 2 weeks, reduced the levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.
It was also observed that dark chocolate consumption also corrected other biochemical imbalances related to stress.
Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to stress which aids in suppressing the release of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium which can help de-stressing.
6. Dark Chocolates May Prevent Skin Damage
Eating dark chocolates can give you dewy skin, reduce wrinkles and protect from UV damage.have a positive effect on your skin.
According to German researchers, flavonoids in dark chocolate absorb UV rays and improve blood flow to the skin. Flavonoids also help improve complexion and skin hydration. Means younger and healthier skin!
Final Thoughts On Dark Chocolate
Reward yourself with a delicious bite of dark chocolate. Milk and white chocolates will keep trying to entice you and test you. Choose the best and nourish yourself with all the goodness of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals it has to offer.
Always remember, everything in moderation is good for health.
Infographic Source: UPMC.COM
nutrition data source: draxe.com