We all know that chocolates have been around for centuries. Chocolates are originated from cocoa beans which are mostly grown on trees. These trees are found in parts of Central and South America and have been planted and harvested for millions of years. It is because of its rich and succulent taste. In ancient history, cocoa beans were ground and made into a hot or spicy chocolate drink. It not only is delectable but is also packed with plenty of health benefits.
In modern society, chocolates are considered a delightful treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. People, especially women, associate chocolate with comfort food especially during their period. It is because eating chocolates offer a pleasurable experience when consuming it. However, while chocolates are good, not all of them are healthy. The best kinds of chocolate come in the form of dark chocolates or cocoa nibs. If you didn’t know this by now, real dark chocolates are referred to as a “superfood”. It is because of the nutritional value in them especially if you know where to pick the right ones.
Most of us are probably aware that dark chocolates are healthier options to milk chocolates, but why is that? Health experts have stated that dark chocolate contains properties that protect us from diseases and improves our health. Here we will try to find out what makes dark chocolate an ideal food and the potential health benefits it offers.
Dark Chocolates – What makes it stand out?
As most of us already know, there are many types of chocolates. The most common are categorized into three types which are the milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. Although there isn’t a standard identification per FDA criteria to dark chocolate’s components, it said to contain around 99 percent pure cocoa solids.
Truly, dark chocolates come from cocoa or cacao. Typically, chocolates are produced from harvested cocoa beans that are inside the plant’s pods. The beans are then fermented and dried after harvesting before being processed. Dark chocolate is also known as semi-sweet chocolate, often bittersweet if the chocolate is extra dark. It is said that the more chocolates contain pure cocoa, the more nutritious it is.
Compared to milk chocolates, dark chocolate undergoes less process and have fewer additional ingredients to add flavor. That is why dark chocolates have a richer flavor, often with a hint of bitterness and earthy taste. With a lot more pure ingredients, the natural nutrients in cocoa like flavanols do not get destroyed, unlike milk chocolates.
Why Dark Chocolates? What are the benefits?
Although dark chocolate is preferably a healthier choice, take note that not all chocolates are made equal. It is still good to enjoy this bitter or semi-sweet treat every once in a while. However, it is important that there are also limits to eating dark chocolate to optimize its benefits. Here are eight benefits of dark chocolate and why we should include it in our diet.
- It can help prevent cancer
Unlike milk chocolate, eating dark chocolate have a better chance of lowering the risk of getting cancer. Scientific research has reported that the high content of pure cocoa would indicate a high antioxidant level in the chocolate. When we have sufficient antioxidants in our body, it helps fight off the cancer cells that are attacking our healthy cells. While this holds true, eating chocolate helps ward off the disease and provide a stimulating eating experience.
- It helps boost our chances of having a healthy heart
Another good point for dark chocolate is its ability to have a positive impact on our heart and cardiovascular system. Flavanols that are found in dark chocolate are what helps reduce blood pressure levels. It also boosts a healthy circulation of our blood to our heart and brain. Moreover, the flavanols in dark chocolate are also said to make of our platelets less pasty. This then lessens the chances of a stroke or blood clot.
- It helps protect our body from the damage of free radicals
Since dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants, it lessens the chances of free radicals from damaging our health. Free radicals are known as compounds or molecules that are unbalanced that is processed by our cells due to exposure to toxins. The responsibility of antioxidants is to neutralize these free radicals. Therefore it defends our bodies from being more damaged. The antioxidants found in dark chocolates include minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are plant compounds that are helpful.
- It helps regulate cholesterol levels in our body
Cocoa butter is also found in dark chocolate which contains identical amounts of oleic acid, palmitic acids, and stearic acids. Oleic acid is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and can also be found in olive oil. Palmitic and stearic acid is lesser forms of saturated fat. However, studies show that stearic acid neither lowers nor raise cholesterol levels. In fact, it only neutralizes the amount of cholesterol in our body.
- It helps support healthy brain function
Dark chocolate is known as one of the top superfoods that can help boost memory and increase focus. Studies have shown the benefits of the flavonoids contained in dark chocolate that helps in problems that have lesser cerebral blood circulation. These problems include stroke and dementia.
- It can potentially help improve eye health
Although still in its early stages, some research has shown the association of good vision by eating dark chocolate.
- It is a powerful and rich source of antioxidants
This is probably one of the top points of eating dark chocolate. The antioxidant properties in dark chocolate are shown to be similar in other superfoods like blueberry, cranberry, and acai. This proves to be beneficial to the health because it protects us from inflammation-related diseases.
- It can help regulate blood sugar levels
Yes, dark chocolate is actually good for people who have diabetes. Dark chocolate does not contain as many sugars like its milk and white counterparts. So, it can reduce the chances of insulin resistance and prevent worsening of diabetes.
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