Great news for all you chocolate lovers out there! It’s true, adding chocolate to your daily diet can be a good thing. This post will explain the benefits of chocolate and how eating it can improve your health!
Just about everyone on the planet loves chocolate. Who can resist that rich, bold flavor? Melt in your mouth goodness comes to mind when I think of chocolate.
Eating it, baking with it – it’s all good! I’m thinking molten, creamy, luscious, delicious… need I say more?
I think you’ve guessed it. I’m one of those chocolate lovers!
But enough of the taste of this decadent treat. How about the benefits of chocolate?
It’s been proven that there are several reasons to indulge in this treat. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Cocoa is top-notch for healthy benefits. And, dark chocolate contains less sugar and fat than the milk chocolate variety.
Remember this, too. The darker the chocolate, the more healthy flavonoids it contains. But, I’ll explain all that as we go. Read on!
WHAT IS CHOCOLATE?
Chocolate starts as a cacao pod. Within the pod are seeds, also called beans, that are extracted and then fermented, dried, and roasted into the cacao bean. The shells are removed, and the remaining cocoa nibs are processed into the product that we adore: chocolate.
IS THERE CAFFEINE IN CHOCOLATE?
Yes, chocolate contains caffeine. And the higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the caffeine content. A cup of coffee has between 70-130 mg of caffeine, while just over 3 ounces of dark chocolate has 43 mg of caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains.
IS IT OKAY TO EAT CHOCOLATE EVERY DAY?
You can eat dark chocolate every day, in moderation, of course. But it’s a no-go for white and milk chocolate. White chocolate doesn’t even have cocoa solids in it – it’s made from cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. And milk chocolate isn’t as nutritional as dark chocolate, either. There is more fat. And lots of sugar, too.
Dark chocolate has flavonoids, the plant chemicals that offer all of the good stuff. Studies show that the antioxidants found in the dark chocolate work to provide benefits that result from a daily dose of a square or two. In fact, studies show that chocolate is rich in flavonoids, right alongside veggies like broccoli and spinach, and fruits like blueberries and cranberries, which also contain flavonol.
There is really only one noted possible side effect of eating dark chocolate daily. Consumption may lead to heartburn because the theobromine found in the chocolate relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, resulting in stomach acids potentially moving up the esophagus.
IS 70% CHOCOLATE GOOD FOR YOU?
Yes, 70% cacao is good for you. But 85-90% is even better! The darker the chocolate, the more it is thought to benefit, and that’s because of the flavonoids.
Especially if you aren’t a fan of super dark chocolate, sticking to 70% is a perfectly good option.
WHAT FORM OF CHOCOLATE IS THE BEST?
The benefits of chocolate are highly impacted by the catechins and epicatechins contained within it. I’ve listed the chocolate that benefits the most to the least:
- Cocoa powder (best form of chocolate)
- Baking chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Milk chocolate
- Chocolate syrup (worst form of chocolate)
To get more benefits from chocolate, for example, bake with unsweetened cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips. As well, use raw cacao powder over unsweetened cocoa powder.
HOW TO BUY AND STORE CHOCOLATE
When you are buying dark chocolate, look for a percentage of 70% or higher. The higher the percentage, the more flavonoids are present. However, the higher the percentage, the more bitter the chocolate will taste.
If you store your chocolate correctly, it can last for up to two years. Chocolate should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Don’t refrigerate your chocolate. Doing so can cause it to “bloom.” This is when the chocolate surface looks white. This is the sugar rising to the surface because of excess moisture. The flavor is the same, but it doesn’t look that appetizing.
How to remove the bloom? Melt the chocolate, remembering to stir, and then let the chocolate solidify again.
11 BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE
1. CHOCOLATE MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND STROKE
The risk of heart disease has been reduced in study participants who consumed dark chocolate. The prevention of calcified plaque in the arteries is thought to be the benefit. Cocoa may prove even more beneficial, and the eating of cocoa-containing foods was emphasized over dark chocolate. So, if you aren’t a fan of dark chocolate, try foods with flavanols, such as apples and green tea.
2. CHOCOLATE MAY LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
It’s been suggested that enjoying rich dark chocolate is linked to lower blood pressure. It’s the effect of cocoa polyphenols that were determined to initiate changes in the levels. The study involved low doses of cocoa – participants received less than an ounce per day and still had positive results.
3. CHOCOLATE CAN HELP IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Chocolate has valeric acid, which acts as a stress reducer. Along with that, chocolate promotes the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter known to have calming effects.
4. CHOCOLATE IS HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
The maximum-level flavonoids in chocolate are what have the antioxidant powers. So much so, that they are more effective than the flavonoids in tea and wine. Note, it’s the dark chocolate that has the antioxidant power over milk chocolate.
5. CHOCOLATE IS FULL OF NUTRIENTS
Chocolate is full of nutrients, but again, the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is. Take a look at some of the nutrients:
6. CHOCOLATE CAN PROTECT THE SKIN FROM THE SUN
Want to protect your skin against the ravages of the sun? Of course, wearing sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin. But there is some evidence that dark chocolate offers protection against the UV rays of the sun.
7. CHOCOLATE ENHANCES BRAIN FUNCTION
Studies have been conducted that point to the fact that the cocoa polyphenols in dark chocolate may alter brain activation patterns. Evidence points to increased blood flow to the brain. And as well, cocoa flavonoids may produce antioxidant effects that can protect the brain.
8. CHOCOLATE HAS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS
We all know that diet plays a big part in illnesses like cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, flavonoids (especially the epicatechin found in cocoa) have anti-inflammatory properties that work against chronic inflammation leading to illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
9. CHOCOLATE CAN BOOST ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
A study determined that the consumption of dark chocolate by participants enhanced their athletic performance. That’s because the flavanols (compounds of flavonoids) increase nitric oxide, which, in turn, reduces oxygen cost when exercising.
10. CHOCOLATE MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF DIABETES
The anti-inflammatory effects of cocoa are believed to have a positive benefit when it comes to diabetes. Cocoa may influence insulin levels and resistance. It’s the epicatechin that can boost insulin levels and control blood sugar.
11. CHOCOLATE CAN HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS
This is a tricky one – you’ve got to look at the concept. Chocolate (dark chocolate with a high cocoa content) has fiber that keeps you full and gives you a feeling of satiety. However, even though the chocolate is dark, and therefore healthier than, say, milk chocolate, you cannot go overboard. If you do, you defeat the purpose. And you cannot eat milk chocolate and expect the same effects.
MORE HEALTHY FOODS WITH ADDED NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
Eating clean and living a healthy lifestyle is all about the food you eat and the way you take care of your body. No doubt, you’ll now want to make something healthy that has chocolate! I’ve added a few recipes here. After that, enjoy your creation and read these posts, too, to get more info on healthy foods.
- My Fave High Protein Snacks for Weight Loss
- 21 Top Foods High in Fiber
- 19 Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar
- 10 Benefits of Eggs and Why You Should Eat Them More Often!
- Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
- Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 3 Ingredient Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark
- Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites
- Dark Chocolate Mint Chia Pudding
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