Ah, chocolate! One of the most delectable treats in the world, offering a full sensory experience. Crumbly and a little snappy, with a distinctive colour and luscious aroma, its flavours will unlock gradually as it is melting on your tongue. Let it rest on your palate for a bit and you will get to enjoy the full spectrum of tastes.
What is even better is that divine food is actually beneficial for the body. This is not coming from personal observations, it’s what scientists are saying. The following health benefits of chocolate will give you a reason not to feel guilty about eating it anymore (as long as you are having the right kind, of course). Feel free to enjoy our review with a piece of brown delight in hand.
What Substances Does Chocolate Have?
First off, let’s dissect the treat. 100 grams of the delicious thing hold the following nutrients in:
- 24 g of sodium
- 31 g of total fat
- 43 mg of caffeine
- 4.9 g of protein
- 61 g of total carbohydrate
- 559 mg of potassium
And now, let’s trace down what is in a bar of dark chocolate with at least 70% of cocoa content:
- 51 g of phosphorus
- 56 g of sugar
- 54 g of protein
- 715 mg of potassium
- 9 mg of iron
- 63 g of fat
- 49 g of carbohydrate
- 73 mg of calcium
- 20 mg of sodium
- 103 mg of flavanols
- 31 mg of zinc
Additionally, it offers 556 kcal of energy and 5 mg of cholesterol.
Now, in case you don’t know, flavanols are a sub-group of flavonoids - compounds that occur naturally in plants. They are mostly found in red wine, grapes, apples, and tea., and are what gives cocoa such a rich, strong taste.
What Health Benefits Does Dark Chocolate Pack in?
And now, we are heading straight to the better part: the benefits.
Protection from free radicals
Dark chocolate is said to offer great antioxidant activity. This fact is generally supported by research that was carried out by the Hershey Co. Juxtaposed to other foods like cranberry, pomegranate, acai and blueberry, cocoa powder seems to have the biggest polyphenol and flavanols content. The study revealed that a single serving of the mouth-watering treat contains about 1,000 mg of flavanols.
It is important to note that this holds true only for non-alkalised chocolate, which automatically leaves milk and white chocolate out of the group. The problem with the latter types is that they are not so rich in antioxidants, if at all.
Improvement in the cardiovascular system
There is a connection between cocoa and diminished risk of heart disease. To back this up, the Cleveland Clinic has researched the benefits of the bitter ingredient and discovered that flavanols help to improve blood flow and lower the pressure, which basically has an astonishing effect on both the brain and heart.
In addition, some observational research has found a link between daily consumption of dark chocolate and lessened risk of mortality. According to them, one to two small squares, or about 6 grams, of chocolate a day can improve one’s longevity. The main reason behind this is possibly the above fact that cocoa tends to lower blood pressure.
Another study was done in the course of 11 years following the lives of 20,000 people. The results, which were published back in 2015, suggest that greater intake of chocolate lowers the risk of future heart problems.
Improvement in cognitive function
Since flavonoids are capable of boosting the blood flow, they affect cognitive ability too, especially in the old. In 2009, scientists concluded that the consumption of tea, wine and chocolate helped to arrive at better cognitive performance, based on a study with 2,000 participants. They also suggested that these three foods be investigated additionally to make sure that it really is the flavonoids that are at play for the astonishing results.
A decrease in blood sugar levels
In 2015, researchers juxtaposed the consumption of dark versus white chocolate in patients plagued by type 2 diabetes. The participants had 25 grams of the food per day over the course of two months. The findings showed that hypertensive diabetics experienced an overall drop in blood pressure coupled with a decrease in sugar levels.
It should be noted that the subjects had very small amounts of dark chocolate, which means that the sugar content was minimal. As you know, this is an important factor that cannot be neglected when counting the benefits of a certain food.
Why Dark Chocolate and not any Other Type of Chocolate?
In the world we know today, there are three basic types of chocolate: white, dark and milk. They are all processed in different ways. The white one is made of dry milk solids (14% at the very minimum), cocoa butter (20%), vanilla, lecithin, and sugar (no more than 55%). As well as this, there may be additional flavourings, sucking the good chemicals out of the product.
Milk chocolate is made of dry milk solids (at least 12%) and cocoa liquor (10% at the very minimum). This is by far the most popular version.
On the other end of the spectrum, dark chocolate contains very basic essentials - the likes of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. The former is made of cocoa beans that are turned into a liquid by means of grinding. It is also known as the chocolate mass. Additional ingredients include lecithin or another emulsifier, sugar and vanilla. As weird as it sounds, milk may also be thrown in and the interesting thing is that one cannot usually tell it’s there. For the most part, the higher the percentage of cacao, the bitterer and richer the taste.
As we said before, cocoa contains flavanols. However, the potential influences of these chemicals might be obscured depending on how the product was processed. Roasting, alkalising, and fermentation can all drive the good stuff out of cocoa. This is why dark chocolate is without a doubt the best of three options.