Dark chocolate is filled with nutrients that can effectively improve your health. The cacao seed, from which it is derived, is a rich source of antioxidants. The benefits of dark chocolate on health and cardiovascular risk have been well-documented. Iron, magnesium, and zinc are just a few of the minerals found in abundance in dark chocolate. Flavonoids, antioxidants found in cocoa, are thought to represent one of dark chocolate’s many potential advantages to health.
Cacao is the plant from which chocolate is made, and it’s packed with healthy stuff like minerals and antioxidants. Modern milk chocolate includes cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and minor quantities of cacao. Dark chocolate, in comparison to milk chocolate, contains a lot more cacao and a lot less sugar. This study investigated the possible positive effects of dark chocolate on health. Everyone, from age five to fifty, enjoys this sugary snack. White, milk and dark chocolate are the three most common types on store shelves, and they’re all equally delicious.
It has become a household staple due to its many positive health effects, which we will discuss in this article. The Cacao tree, from which chocolate is made, is native to tropical regions such as West Africa, South America, and Australia. Cacao seeds have been processed into chocolate by the Olmec (an ancient culture of Mexico) as early as 4000 B.C.
In Europe, milk chocolate first became popular among the upper class and the nobility. They began to slowly but steadily mix sugar, milk, and honey into their dark chocolate. Only in the twentieth century, thanks to advertising for its many therapeutic properties, did dark chocolate become popular again. Intense antioxidants can be found in cocoa and dark chocolate. They much surpass the nutritional value of the average food item.
What are the medical advantages of dark chocolate?
The amount of cocoa that is indicated on the packaging of chocolate refers to the proportion of the total ingredients that are derived from the cacao plant. Because of this, a product containing dark chocolate that has a greater proportion of cocoa may include a greater quantity of the nutrients that are responsible for delivering its advantages. Flavanols, polyphenols, and theobromine are all examples of these helpful substances. It is essential to keep in mind that the industrial operations that transform cocoa into cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and chocolate result in the loss of some of the polyphenol chemicals that were originally present in cocoa.
When cocoa is prepared, some of the components that give its health benefits are removed, and the procedure may also involve the addition of sugar, milk, and cocoa butter, which is a refined form of the cocoa bean. Cocoa has been linked to many medical advantages, some of which may include the reduction of free radicals, the improvement of blood flow, the reduction of hypertension, the reduction of bad cholesterol, the reduction of infection, the reduction of insulin sensitivity, and the improvement of the brain’s ability to form new relationships between neurons.
Following are the medical advantages of a dark chocolate
If you get the good stuff, dark chocolate with a significant cocoa content is pretty healthy. It’s rich in minerals and has a respectable quantity of soluble fiber. 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a lot, and you shouldn’t eat that every day. In addition to the vitamins and minerals, there are also 600 calories and some sugar. It’s for this reason that eating dark chocolate in moderation is recommended. It has an advantageous composition of fatty acids. The majority of the fats are heart-healthy fatty acids oleic acid, and palmitic acid. Regarding cholesterol levels, stearic acid has little effect. Although palmitic acid contributes one-third of the fat calories in the body, it is known to increase cholesterol levels. Caffeine can be found in dark chocolate as well, but unlike coffee, the quantity found in dark chocolate is extremely low, and thus difficult to keep you up at night.
High in antioxidants, making it a potent health food
Scientists test how effective the antioxidants in a food sample are by subjecting it to a barrage of free radicals (bad). Results from these investigations suggest that chocolate contains a high concentration of antioxidants. However, studies conducted on people have shown mixed results regarding chocolate’s antioxidant potential. However, experts argue that at this time there is not enough information to draw any firm conclusions. Organic chemicals found in dark chocolate have been shown to have a biological effect and act as antioxidants. Polyphenolic compounds, flavonoids, and catechins are just a few examples. The antioxidants in dark chocolate, when paired with other foods like almonds and cocoa, may help reduce various kinds of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as indicated by a study. The antioxidant properties, polyphenols, and flavonoids found in cocoa and dark chocolate were shown to be higher than in any of the fruits examined, including raspberries and acai berries.
Potential to increase blood flow and reduce hypertension
By increasing nitric oxide production in the endothelium (the walls of the arteries), natural antioxidants in dark chocolate may have beneficial health effects. One of Nitrix Oxide’s roles is to instruct the arteries to relax, which decreases blood pressure by lowering the circulation of the blood. Numerous randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the benevolent effects of cocoa and dark chocolate on cardiovascular health, including a little but statistically significant reduction in blood pressure. You should approach this with a grain of salt, as it was shown to have no benefit in one trial of persons with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Likely, adding cocoa flavanols to the food won’t help those who are already being treated for hypertension. There is a need for greater research on this topic given the large discrepancy between studies.
Boosts HDL and prevents LDL oxidation
Several major risk factors for cardiovascular disease can be reduced by eating dark chocolate. Potentially helpful in preventing high cholesterol. It was observed in a short trial that consuming dark chocolate combined with the flavanol lycopene dramatically reduced total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Reactions between some kinds of LDL cholesterol and free radicals in the body make this form of cholesterol more prone to oxidation. When an LDL particle becomes oxidized, it becomes reactive and can damage various tissues, including the walls of your heart’s arteries. It stands to reason that cocoa would reduce oxidized LDL. It’s loaded with potent antioxidants that can enter the circulatory system and shield lipoproteins from free radical damage. Its flavanols can help lower insulin sensitivity and have additional side effects for chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
On the other hand, the sweetness in dark chocolate may have the reverse effect.
This may lower the possibility of cardiovascular disease
To prevent LDL from being oxidized, the chemicals in dark chocolate seem to be very beneficial. This should have a long-term beneficial effect of reducing the likelihood of heart disease by reducing the amount of cholesterol that builds up in the arteries. Several studies have demonstrated that flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate can help reduce hypertension and enhance heart health over time. Eating chocolate thrice weekly was associated with a 9% decrease in the likelihood of heart disease in a meta-analysis. There was little additional advantage to consuming more frequently. Having about 45 grams of chocolate once a week has been linked to an 11% reduced risk of heart disease. No evidence consuming more than 100 grams per week has any positive effects on health. While these results are encouraging, further investigation is required to determine whether or not the protective effect observed was actually due to the chocolate.
Potential to enhance cognitive abilities
There is yet more excellent news to come. It’s possible that eating dark chocolate can boost cognitive power. High-flavanol chocolate has been shown to increase the blood flow to the brain in youngsters. This may be the reason why regular cocoa consumption appears to enhance focus, language learning, and recollection. Further research is needed, however, cocoa flavanoids may also aid in the preservation of brain performance and delay the onset of dementia in older persons with memory loss. More study is required, though.
Caffeine and theobromine, two enhancers included in cocoa, may also play a role in the food’s brief but noticeable effect on cognitive performance.
Resistivity to insulin
If the body’s cells fail to respond to insulin production, a condition known as insulin resistance can develop. Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are both conditions that can develop as a result of insulin sensitivity, which can result in unusually elevated blood glucose concentrations. The association between consistent eating of dark chocolate and blood sugar levels in Hispanic persons was investigated in a 2018 study that lasted for six months. According to the results of the study, consuming daily 48 grams of dark chocolate with a minimum cocoa content of 70% may dramatically reduce rising glucose concentrations and lowers insulin resistance.
The Bottom Line
There is a growing body of research indicating that cocoa can give significant health advantages, with one of its most important roles being protection against cardiovascular disease. This does not imply that you should go completely overboard and drink a large amount of chocolate daily. It still has a lot of calories, and it’s simple to eat too much of it. Try to enjoy one or two squares of chocolate after dinner if you can do it. Consider preparing your cocoa as a hot beverage without adding any sugar or cream to reap the health advantages of cocoa without the added fat and calories found in chocolate. You should also be aware that a significant portion of the chocolate sold today is not particularly healthful. Chocolate having a cocoa level of 70% or above is considered to be dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has a higher concentration of sugar.
Check out this helpful advice on where to obtain the finest quality dark chocolate if you want some recommendations. Dark chocolates typically have trace levels of sugar, although these sugars are typically in negligible quantities. It is a fantastic food that not only has a delicious flavor but also provides many important health advantages. It is in comparison to milk chocolate, often has a lower sugar content and is a rich source of various antioxidants. There is evidence from certain studies that eating dark chocolate may aid in reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, as well as inflammation and insulin sensitivity, enhance cognitive function, and boost the diversity of the microbiota found in the gut. Individuals who are interested in including dark chocolate in their healthy diet should be aware that it is packed with fat and calories, and as a result, consumption in moderation is essential.