Most of us enjoy chocolate as a dessert or a snack. Over the holidays, we indulge to our heart’s content. According to the Mayo Clinic daily doses of dark chocolate can improve our health, skin condition and weight loss. A small bite of dark chocolate creates a sense of pleasure improving our moods. The list of health conditions that enjoy chocolate therapy will surprise you.
Cacao is the sole source of chocolate producing the cocoa powder. The bean’s composition has flavonoids, helping to restore to good health. By itself, dark chocolate is bitter; the addition of rich sweet ingredients creates decadent morsels. Moderation is important and limiting your portions of chocolate to seven ounces, a week is good for your health. The cacao content in chocolate should have at least 70 to 85 percent for the best results. The value and content of cocoa in chocolate varies from brand to brand–so read the labels.
Origins of Chocolate
Chocolate is harvested from the cocoa tree as a bean protected by a hard outer husk. The husks are broken to remove the cocoa beans for fermenting, drying and then roasting in temperatures between 105 to 120 degrees. The heat darkens the chopped cocoa nibs – releasing the chocolate flavor and aroma. After roasting, the crushed nibs produce a thick cocoa liquid called mass. The liquid contains cocoa butter and solidifies when it cools. The mass is pressed to extract the cocoa butter –an essential component to making chocolate. The solid blocks of chocolate are milled one more time into a fine powder, producing a high-grade cocoa for blending into beverages, cooking and baking.
Dark chocolate has two categories; bittersweet or semisweet. It has a high percentage of cocoa with small to zero amounts of sugar. The flavor is very dense not sweet. The richness is the reason dark chocolate is used in candies, baking and chocolate bars. When shopping for chocolate, look for high levels of cocoa content for the fullest flavor.
- Organically grown cocoa beans are the best quality.
- Unroasted beans are raw chocolate. Raw chocolate has a higher concentrate value in nutrition.
Benefits Of Eating Dark Chocolate
Today, chocolate is available in various forms from processed chocolate, herbs and diet supplements. Your diet should include foods such as chocolate bars, cocoa drinks or cocoa powder. Depending on the health condition, consuming up to 100 grams or three ounces of dark chocolate daily enhances the health benefits.
Dark chocolate has more antioxidant powers compared to milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate has at least 70 percent of cocoa solid compared to milk chocolate’s cocoa solid averages about 25 to 28 percent content. Studies report milk may interfere with the body’s absorption for some individuals. It is important to balance your caloric intake; daily doses of dark chocolate should not replace other dietary foods.
Eating 25 grams of dark chocolate in the morning and again in the afternoon helps to reduce the levels of stress. Added benefits of eating dark chocolate are metabolic improvements and microbial action. These two functions keep our digestive systems working. The process helps generate vitamins B and K.
Smaller amounts can help reduce the risk of a heart condition. Chocolate works like aspirin decreasing the platelets that clump together causing the blood to clot. Studies showed a correlation between the reduction of strokes and the consumption of dark chocolate. Eating up to 80 grams of chocolate daily keeps your heart healthy.
Testing results found individuals eating cocoa dark chocolate relieved fatigue without weight gain over an eight-week period. It looks to have the same effect as serotonin, a mood regulator. Our body produces serotonin to help our nerves and brain work. A daily routine of 0.55 grams of dark chocolate for eight weeks may help to get you up and moving.
This condition blocks the flow of blood through the liver. Research found dark chocolate could prevent cirrhosis complications when mixed was liquid drinks or eaten alone daily. The high content of cocoa solids in dark chocolate increases the potency of antioxidants. The antioxidants keep the inner lining of blood vessel healthier helping them to function better.
Regulates High Blood Pressure
The flavonoids in dark chocolate stimulate the lining of the arteries to produce a gas called Nitric Oxide (NO). NO causes the arteries to relax, allowing our blood to move, reducing blood pressure. Some individuals have found dark chocolate is an effective therapy helping to regulate the blood flow. If your blood pressure is high, you need to see your doctor.
Controls Blood Sugar Glucose
Hyperglycemia happens when our body stops making enough insulin to offset blood sugar. We use glucose to create energy from the foods we eat. For health, reasons we need to regulate our blood sugar levels. Dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols to help manage these levels. 100 grams of dark chocolate a day for 18 weeks at a time can regulate your blood sugar.
Helps High Cholesterol
When LDL levels are high plaque builds up in our arteries, restricting our blood flow. HDL helps to reduce cholesterol by absorbing it and flushing it from our body. High cholesterol occurs when these two levels are out of balance. Studies show consuming 100 grams of dark chocolate daily helped to reduce the harmful LDL in men.
Infections and medicines reactions can prevent the boy’s absorption of insulin. Dark chocolate helps with the absorption and may even correct pre-diabetes conditions. All it takes is 15 to 20 grams a day for up to eight weeks.
Based on actual tests results with various individuals the outcomes of including dark chocolate in your daily diet were positive. Your own health conditions and personal taste to dark chocolate may cause a reaction that suggests a lower amount of dark chocolate. If you are counting calories, chocolate should be part of the plan. Just make sure that you do not replace needed nutrients with chocolate.
Because dark chocolate is a stimulate, if you are sensitive to stimulates, lower doses and consumption times need to be monitored. See your doctor if you have pre-diagnosed health conditions before changing your diet. Always monitor your diet when adding new food sources.
Dark Chocolate Food Values
Cocoa beans are loaded with nutrients, soluble fiber and valuable minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc, selenium and phosphorus. The three fatty acids in cocoa and dark chocolate are good for you.
- Stearic acid—saturated fat that does not raise or lower the blood cholesterol
- Oleic acid—mono-saturated fat may help to reduce cholesterol levels
- Palmitic acid—saturated fat that raises low cholesterol
Including dark chocolate into your diet offers a delicious method of getting healthy fat daily. The fat in dark chocolate comes from plants making it a healthier choice. Dark chocolate has more mono-saturated fats, with some saturated fat. Saturated fats increase with the addition of milk or cream.
- Saturated—fat molecules are solid forms at room temperatures. You can find them in animal food sources from meat and dairy products. Some saturated fats will raise cholesterol levels.
- Mono-saturated—fat molecules are liquid at room temperature and healthy for us. These oils will solidify when chilled. As antioxidants, they also add vitamin E to your diet.
- Polyunsaturated—this fat is a plant-based found in oil and cacao butter.
Dark chocolate is helpful to supporting good health and has a stronger flavor compared to the other chocolates. The tastes change depending on the ingredients blended with the chocolate recipe. Different choices of milk give a smoother texture and enhance the flavors. Creams, dried or fresh milk will change the calorie content, so take a few minutes to read the labels.
Consuming moderate amounts is still the best practice. To get the best health results make sure the cocoa content is at least 70 percent or higher.