Bitter is Better: Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Highlights

  • Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients
  • Moderate daily consumption of dark chocolate can work wonders for your health
  • Dark chocolate helps you in weight loss

Dark chocolate is made from the cacao seeds of the tropical ‘Theobroma’ tree. It has been consumed by humans since last 3000 years. According to historians, a dark chocolate drink was prepared by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans for health purposes. A word of Latin origin ‘Theobroma’, is made of two words, ‘theo’ which means ‘God’ and ‘broma’ which means food. So dark chocolate, literally is the ‘Food of the Gods’. This may be the reason for its divine taste and health benefits.

Dark chocolate with a 70% or higher content of cocoa is loaded with various types of antioxidants and minerals. It tastes bittersweet but helps to improve overall immune system. Dark chocolate has some amazing health benefits.

Dark Chocolate helps in weight loss

Dark chocolate contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAS) which speed up the metabolism affecting the synthesis of fatty acids by our body, as it lowers the carbohydrates and fat absorption. Calories burn at a much faster rate due to this process. The sugar absorbed into the bloodstream is slowed down by the healthy fats in dark chocolate, preventing insulin spike due to which sugar reaches straight into the fat cells. High insulin levels stop the burning of fat as you may feel hungry again. Dark chocolate puts an end to desires for eating salty, fatty and sweet foods as well, it is good for controlling appetite. It has anti-inflammatory properties and magnesium, both elements together reduce body pain which can be ideal for a rigorous gym work out.

Dark chocolate can work as a booster for the Immune system

Dark Chocolate contains antioxidants combined with other nutrients which improve the immune system, as it regulates the inflammation within the system. The flavonoid element of the dark chocolate is crucial as the body tissues respond to wounds, infections, chemicals and pathogens through inflammation. Flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties which are good for the immune system. Bitter chocolate helps antibodies to fight disease by attacking the bacteria, it also supports the lymphoid tissues related to immunity as cell creation process is improved for a better immune system.

It can help to prevent Depression

Theobromine is an element in the dark chocolate which works just like caffeine, but consumption of dark chocolate in large amounts can have some ill effects. Anandamide is another element in the bitter chocolate which improves our mood and energy levels but is not addictive like drugs and does not cause cardiovascular damage. It also has phenethylamine which converts into serotonin during metabolism which regulates the mood. Dark chocolate is a surely a mood enhancer.

It helps in improving Red Blood cell Distribution

According to research, balanced consumption of bitter chocolate which has high content of polyphenols, flavonoids and iron, creates a better scope to the red blood cell distribution. The red blood cell distribution width (RDW) is a parameter for analyzing cardiovascular diseases. As dark chocolate consumption can make the RDW better, it also reduces the chance of cardiovascular diseases.

Dark Chocolate is loaded with nutrients

It does have the necessary antioxidants but it is fully loaded with dietary vitamins and minerals. Approximately half cup of pure cocoa contains; Theobromine- 80mg, Omega-6 fatty acids- 380mg, Caffeine- 99mg, Copper- 80% of your daily value, Manganese- 83%, Phosphorous- 30%, Zinc- 40%, Calcium- 5%, Magnesium- 55% and Iron 35% of your daily value.

Dark Chocolate contains Antioxidants

Dark chocolate has a high content of potent antioxidants which can help in eradication of free radicals of cancer. Free radicals are a pre-condition in case of cancer. According to a calculated research, the Relative Antioxidant Capacity Index (RACI) was checked by a process where the free radicals were isolated with an extract of antioxidants from the bitter chocolate in an ‘in vivo’ (outside human body) phase. These two extracts are opposite to each other. As a result of this experiment, antioxidants proved to be very effective in eliminating the free radicals. A consistent research on this subject has brought to light the positive effect of antioxidants in fighting free radicals in the ‘in vitro’ stage. Dark chocolate has many such compounds that are active biologically such as polyphenols, catechins, theobromine and flavonoids which have a positive effect on the human body.

Bitter Chocolate can provide skin protection against the Sun

Raw cocoa consumption is the best way for skin protection against ultraviolet rays of the sun, cocoa beans are available online or at health food stores. Dark chocolate with an 85% of cocoa content can also work for this purpose as it has flavonoids. So, you don’t need to worry about skin damage or darkening as dark chocolate may shield you against the sun along with other remedies.

Brain Function can be improved by having Dark Chocolate

According to a research by British psychologists, bitter chocolate has flavonoids which helps to improve mental math or calculations, in terms of number recall tests carried out as people consumed hot cocoa during these tests. Consumption of best quality dark chocolates can help to enhance cognitive abilities, abstract reasoning, working memory, scanning and visual-spatial awareness.

It can help in Pregnancy

Fetal growth can be enhanced by dark chocolate as it contains flavonoids. Daily moderate consumption of bitter chocolate by pregnant women can lower the risk of preeclampsia. It occurs due to high blood pressure, when the supply of blood to the fetus is constrained.

Bitter Chocolate can lower Blood Pressure

Approximately, a thousand people were a part of the recent studies at Harvard research comprising of a total twenty four studies in the past. The final conclusion of these studies was that people who consumed bitter chocolate with a cocoa content of 50 to 70%, were able to lower their blood pressure to a normal level. Individuals suffering from hypertension were also benefitted by dark chocolate. The antioxidants, flavonoids and other active nutrients in the chocolate helped to reduce blood pressure.

It can help prevent Stroke.

Dark Chocolate can help in prevention of stroke. According to a study on the residents of Norfolk, where 20,951 people who ate dark chocolate and the ones who did not eat chocolate at all were compared. Cardiovascular statistics were analyzed over a long period of time. The regular consumption of dark chocolate by one group cannot exactly be linked to hundred percent of stroke prevention, but the analysis shows that chocolate does help in preventing stroke to some extent.

It can help prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Regular consumption of bitter chocolate can prove to be effective against cardiovascular disease. According to research done on almost 500 people who consumed cocoa daily but in different dosages showed positive effects with context to reduction in chances of getting cardiovascular disease. The overall qualities of dark chocolate have a positive physical and psychological effect which support prevention of such diseases.

It can improve LDL HDL Cholesterol level

A degenerative artery condition caused due to low quality lipids being oxidized is called Artherogenesis. Oxidization of the LDL cholesterol, making it reactive, is a major contributor to Artherogenesis. Such a condition can harm your arteries and organs causing cancer. Dark chocolate consumption prevents LDL cholesterol oxidization and increases the HDL cholesterol level which is good for the body.

Bitter Chocolate can aid against Diabetes

Dark chocolate is an effective food which enhances endothelial function and resistance to insulin. Cocoa helps to regulate endothelium as it is the most significant in regulating insulin resistance and arterial health. Cocoa is loaded with nutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids and is bitter in taste which makes it ideal for prevention of diabetes.

It helps to control cough

Theobromine, one of the important elements of dark chocolate helps in cutting down the effect of the vagus nerve. This nerve is connected to the brain as it triggers cough fits. Cocoa acts as an effective suppressant for cough. Tests were conducted as subjects were given various medicines for cough, medicines with codeine content and theobromine content. The subjects who took the theobromine content medicine showed better results of recovery.

 

Dark chocolates are produced by various brands, but the best dark chocolate from the health perspective are the ones with a cocoa content of 70% or higher than 70%. It might taste bitter, but proves to be highly beneficial. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better the antioxidant concentration.

Avoid Dutched or Alkalized Dark Chocolate

Dutching is a method for processing chocolate which includes alkali which lowers the bitter flavor and changes the color. Dutching lowers the antioxidant level in chocolates.

Buy Fair-trade and organic chocolates

As consumers, you can ensure the cocoa bean farmer gets a fair price for his product if you buy fair-trade chocolate. Buying organic chocolate is always better than buying chocolate made from cacao beans which are sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.

 

A few dark chocolate brands like Equal Exchange, Pascha Chocolate, Antidote Chocolate, Alter Eco, Green & Black’s and Lindt are some of the best chocolate brands you can get globally. These brands produce some of the most high quality authentic dark chocolates

Conclusion:

The modern human lifestyle in terms of professions has reduced the scope for physical human movement. Long hours of working in a steady sitting position combined with rise in consumption of junk food or the Western style diet is affecting our health in a negative manner. In addition, the reliance on use of online shopping and other online activities might have reduced our activity level due to the convenience aspect. Issues like obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart diseases, high blood pressure, skin problems, early aging and depression are a few alarming issues globally, that are related to our health and modern lifestyle. Due to odd working hours or some other reason, it might not be possible for every person to work out or exercise on a daily basis.

The best solution for maintaining good health is to eat right at the right time. A diet plan can itself prove to be beneficial. A balanced diet can be followed as per your body mass index and other health related issues. But anything you do, daily moderate level consumption of Dark Chocolate can work wonders for your health. As it is full of iron, copper, selenium, magnesium, antioxidants and other such elements which could prove to be great health boosters. Eventually, it can be concluded that bitter is always bitter when it comes to the Dark chocolate.

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