Chocolate – one of America’s favorite comfort foods. There are very few people who are not fond of chocolate, even those who have to avoid it for one reason or another. Chocolate, besides its flavor, additionally has health benefits. This is particularly true for dark chocolate. So, what is dark chocolate about?
What is Chocolate?
Chocolate is a food substance produced from roasted cacao beans. It can be found in a solid form such as a candy bar, or it can be in a liquid form such as chocolate milk or hot chocolate. Chocolate finished for retail usually has sugar and sometimes milk added. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, contains less sugar and has a more bitter taste. There are three (3) principle types of chocolate: white, milk, and dark. This article is going to focus principally on dark chocolate.
What is Dark Chocolate about?
Dark chocolate is the second most popular chocolate behind milk chocolate. It has a unique deep brown color and is sometimes referred to as black or semisweet chocolate. Dark chocolate has increased in popularity as its health benefits have become more well-known.
Dark chocolate does not have a complicated structure. It is usually prepared from two ingredients: sugar and chocolate liquor. Occasionally vanilla and soy lecithin, which is an emulsifier, are added.
The FDA defines dark chocolate by stating that it must contain at least 15% chocolate liquor. However, it usually has closer to about 50%. Most high-quality dark chocolate does not have added dairy and can be a favorite for vegans as friendly chocolate. Not having dairy and less sugar gives dark chocolate a firmer texture than white or milk chocolate.
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
It is quite nutritious – Dark chocolate is packed with nutrients that have a positive effect on health. A 100-graham Quality dark chocolate bar with high cocoa content is relatively nutritious as it has an adequate quantity of soluble fiber and is rich in minerals. It contains an abundance of zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and potassium.
It is important to note that these valuable nutrients come with 600 calories and a moderate amount of sugar. Because of this, dark chocolate, as with other foods, should be consumed in moderate amounts.
The fats contained in dark chocolate are favorable as well. The fats include primarily oleic acid, a fat that is healthy for the heart and found in olive oil, palmitic, and stearic acids.
Stearic acid has a nimble result on body cholesterol. On the other hand, palmitic acid can inflate cholesterol levels, making up one-third of the total fat calories.
Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. However, it is improbable to cause insomnia, as the caffeine is small compared to coffee.
Contains powerful antioxidants – Dark chocolate has an expansive variety of antioxidants, and it has considerably more than the majority of other foods. One of the ways antioxidant activity in food is determined is by measuring the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). The biological significance of ORAC values is questionable since it is determined in a test tube and may not have the same effect on the body.
However, it is important to note that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are amid the highest-scoring foods that have been tested.
Dark chocolate is ladened with biologically active organic compounds that function as antioxidants. These are comprised of catechins, flavanols, and polyphenols, among others.
Can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure – The endothelium, the lining of arteries, can be stimulated by the flavanols in dark chocolate to produce the gas nitric oxide (aka NO). (reference)
Nitro Oxide functions primarily by sending signals to the arteries to relax, which in turn lowers the resistance to blood flow and consequently reduces blood pressure.
Numerous controlled studies indicate that dark chocolate and cocoa can advance blood flow and decrease blood pressure. However, the effects are generally mild (reference, reference, reference, reference).
Increases HDL and safeguard s LDL from oxidation – Several vital risk triggers for heart disease may improve by Ingesting dark chocolate.
Cocoa powder was discovered to considerably lessen oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol in men in a controlled study. It additionally raised HDL and dropped total LDL for those individuals with high cholesterol (reference).
Oxidized LDL occurs when the LDL cholesterol has acted in response with free radicals. This occurrence causes the LDL element to be reactive, making it capable of damaging other tissues, in this case, the lining of the arteries of the heart.
Cocoa has a plethora of powerful antioxidants that protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage (reference).
It is crucial to note that dark chocolate also includes sugar as an ingredient. This ingredient can have the opposite effect on blood sugar.
Can reduce heart disease risk – As mentioned above, the compounds in dark chocolate emerge to be substantially shielding against LDL oxidation.
This advantage should cause much less cholesterol to embed in the arteries, ultimately decreasing the risk of heart disease. Several long-term observational studies indicate a comparatively drastic progression in this area.
However, these studies were observational. Therefore, it is unclear precisely if it is the chocolate that decreased the risk. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that frequently ingesting dark chocolate can lessen the threat of heart disease.
Can protect the skin from the sun – Because of the bioactive compounds in dark chocolate, it can be advantageous to the skin.
The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the smallest quantity of UVB rays necessary to produce redness in the skin 24 hours post-exposure.
In a study of 30 individuals, the MED was more than twice as much after ingesting dark chocolate that was high in flavanols for 12 weeks (reference).
Could improve brain function – A study of volunteers in good physical shape revealed that consuming high flavanol cocoa for five (5) days enhanced blood flow to the brain (reference).
It may additionally improve mental function in older adults considerably with slight mental distress. It can further advance verbal fluency and a number of risk factors for disease (reference).
Substantial evidence verifies that cocoa may supply powerful health benefits and is particularly defensive against heart disease. However, beware that it is laden with calories, and a great deal of retail chocolate is not health beneficial and should be consumed in moderation. Therefore, an effort to choose quality chocolate is best. You can buy dark chocolate at local grocers or shop for it online. [paid link]
Dark chocolate characteristically contains some sugar. However, the amounts are generally small. The darker the chocolate, the smaller amount of sugar it will contain.
Questions, comments, concerns, or experiences with dark chocolate are welcomed below.