7 Awesome Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is usually associated with being a bad thing due to the high sugar and fat content.
But there are various health benefits of Chocolate, especially “Dark Chocolate” for that matter, that should you should not overlook:
Let’s start with some interesting facts about chocolate that you might just like:
The word “Cacao” is usually referred to the plant or bean before processing.
And the name “Chocolate” is anything made from the bean.
With, “Cocoa” being Chocolate in the powdered form.
As per the “Smithsonian Mag” website, the word “Chocolate” originated from the Aztec word “Xocoatl” which means a bitter brew made from the “cacao” beans. (1)
However, as per Wikepedia, “chocolate” comes from the Classical “Nahuatl “word “chocolātl”, and
made its way from Spanish to English. (2)
So, basically there is no consciences as to the words origin.
Next, lets us see if Dark chocolate is really good? We will investigate this further:
The answer is a resounding “yes”:
And the main reason for this is its ingredient “Cocoa”
The Cocoa plant used to grow wild in the Amazon rain forest and South America, for a long time.
It was “Christopher Columbus” who brought the first Cocoa beans to Europe on his fourth trip in 1502.
But he did not realize it value. It was a fellow Spaniard “Don Hernán Cortés” who realized its commercial value, and the rest is History.
There is an interesting article by the “Cadbury” company about the route and history of Cocoa. (3)
You might be asking, why is Dark chocolate considered good and not just any chocolate, like say milk chocolate?
Various studies have been conducted related to consumption of Dark and Milk chocolate.
In one of the studies Blood Plasma was tested after consumption of Dark and Milk chocolate, and it was found that the antioxidant level was much lower on consumption of Milk chocolate as opposed to dark chocolate. It has been conceived that if milk is present in the chocolate product, the antioxidant consumption might be effected. (4)
Let’s discuss what are the health benefits so that we can enjoy that bar of the delicious food called Chocolate:
1) Chocolate Contains various Nutrients:
A 101gm Bar of Dark Chocolate 70 – 85% cacao solids contains, approximately:
11gms of Dietary Fiber, 8gms of Protein, 1% RDA of Vitamin A, 7% RDA of Calcium and 67 % RDA of Iron. (5)
2) Antioxidant properties
Cocoa has been found to contain antioxidants, especially Flavonoids, (6)
Most food stuff with flavonoids, impart a bitter, sharp flavor to the foodstuff, which can be masked when chocolate is mixed with other flavors. However, you should check the ingredients on the pact to see that the sugar content and unwanted elements are at a minimum. (7)
Whilst, studies have also found that Dark Chocolate might increase the resistance of DNA to oxidation stress. (8)
3) Reducing Blood Pressure:
Dark chocolate has been found to contain Polyphenols. These are compounds that are naturally found in plants which have antioxidation properties. These were found to reduce fasting blood pressure in individuals. (9)
Cocoa has been found to improve Cardio vascular health. That means it can reduce the likelihood of heart disease. This is due to its effect in reducing LDL (bad) Cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) Cholesterol. (10, 11)
4) Reduces the risk of Diabetes:
You might be knowing this but just to recap. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It helps the cells use the glucose in the blood for energy. In Type 2 Diabetes, one of the two circumstances might occur:
Firstly, the body might not be producing enough insulin for the glucose to get into the cells, thus causing high blood glucose levels.
Or, the cells might be resistant to the effects of insulin and the pancreas might be producing excess insulin to cater to this.
The antioxidants in Chocolate might influence insulin resistance in the body and thus reduce diabetes risk. (12, 13)
5) Increase Brain functioning:
In one of the studies it was found that Cocoa can increase the blood flow to the brain. Thus, it can play a good part in healthy ageing. (14)
6) Protecting the Skin:
In one of the studies conducted on 30 individuals, it was found that cocoa consumption can increase blood flow to the skin and help in providing essential nutrients. It thus helps in protecting the skin from UV damage. However, you will only get this effect on consumption of Dark chocolate, and not conventional chocolate. (15)
and the Best one for the last:
7) Helps in reducing weight:
Dark chocolate has been found to increase metabolic activity and thus help in the control of weight. Volunteers were given Dark chocolate or a placebo for four weeks. It was found that the volunteers who consumed the actual dark chocolate had higher metabolic activity than the ones given the placebo. (16)
However, after seeing all the benefits you might think that eating more of Dark chocolate might be beneficial. But that’s where the catch lies. Each bar of Dark chocolate has also, sugar and fats in it. If you consume a 101-gm bar of chocolate, you would also be ingesting around 24 gms of sugar and 43 gm of fat. So, the idea is to consume this in moderation.
You must look into getting the benefits but not the negative effects. I have found that having dark chocolate with higher concentration of cocoa to be better. Initially your pallet might take time to adjust to the bitter taste, but in time you will find it is sweet enough for your taste.
Also, you do not need to go out and buy the dark chocolate. There are some good recipes on how to make dark chocolate at home, which are worth a try. Thus, you will not have to rely on the chocolate manufacturer and you can control what goes into the bar of dark chocolate delight.
Dark Chocolate has many health benefits ranging from maintaining a healthy heart to increasing brain functioning.
However, you should eat chocolate with over 70 % cocoa to get the benefit. Also, to prevent excess sugar consumption, you should eat this goody in small amounts.
Tell me you experience with Dark chocolate. Do you like it or just prefer the milk variety? You can leave your ideas in the comments section below.