Diet and Nutrition

What can Chocolate do for You?

There is always a question as to what can chocolate do for our health? Is it healthy or is it not? When we talk about chocolate here, it is dark chocolate. Not many are aware that dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that have a positive effect on the health of the individual. It is made from the seed of the cocoa tree and considered to be one of the best sources of antioxidants.

There have been studies which show that dark chocolate minus the sugary content is known to bring about a lot of health improvement and also helps in lowering the risk of heart related disorders. Dark chocolate is known to contain low quantity of unhealthy ingredients for example, sugar, fat and milk chocolate.

It is basically 70 percent of cocoa and loaded with nutrients including antioxidants. It is also said to be loaded with other kinds of numerous health benefits which cannot be found in any other kind of chocolates.

  • As compared to the milk chocolate, dark chocolate is known to have a much higher concentration of various ingredients which are derived from cocoa beans. This would mean many more of antioxidants but also one should not forget that higher concentrations of cocoa can also have a bitter flavour. Dark chocolate is known to be loaded with organic compounds which are biologically active and also function as antioxidants. Those would include flavanols, catechins, polyphenols and many more. In one of the study it was reported that cocoa as well as dark chocolate are known to contain more of the antioxidant activity such as flavanols and polyphenols than one can find in any other fruits which were tested such as acai berries and blueberries.
  • When you feeling low or stressed out then you can look forward for dark chocolate since they are known to enhance the production of endorphin which in turn is known to lower the stress levels in an individual. There has been evidence to prove that consuming dark chocolate has been linked with reducing the everyday stress levels in an individual. It was stated that those individuals who rated themselves as being highly stressed to start with were found to have low levels of stress hormones after consuming dark chocolate every day for two weeks’ period. Since chocolates are known to contain antioxidants and polyphenols then it can seem to be really helpful for the overall health of the individual.  Dark chocolate helps to lighten the mood of the individual by increasing the levels of serotonin and endorphin in the brain. As per one of the report it was stated that daily eating 1.4 ounce of dark chocolate for a period of two weeks is said to be associated with low levels of stress related hormone named cortisol. In another report it has been stated that pregnant women who consume more of dark chocolate during their pregnancy period give birth to babies who are stress free.
  • Dark chocolate is also known to help in improvement of focus. Chocolate also contains flavonoids apart from small amounts of proteins hence it is said that by adapting dark chocolate as your study partner can help in improvement of concentration. There have been studies which prove that dark chocolate helps in the improvement of the overall functioning of the brain. Cocoa can also significantly lead to improvement in the cognitive function mostly in case of elderly who suffer from mental impairment. It is known to bring about improvement in the verbal fluency as well as protect against several other diseases. Cocoa is also said to contain a stimulant substance such as caffeine and theobromine which can be identified as one of the key reasons on why cocoa is said to play a role in the improvement of the brain function mostly for short term.
  • Dark chocolates which are extreme can be of an acquired taste for some people but at the same time it is known to include a lot of health benefits. But always keep in mind that moderation is the key. It is better to practice moderation while consuming chocolate even though you are opting for the healthier one. It is recommended to go in for a serving size which is in between one third to three fourth of an ounce of the dark chocolate. However, do not go about replacing any of your medications used for hypertension or diabetes with dark chocolate. Also remember that though dark chocolate comes with a lot of health benefit ultimately it also contains calories, sugar and saturated fat which is not good for the body if consumed more than the desired limit.

Apart from the benefits which are mentioned above, there are other benefits of dark chocolate such as it helps to protect from the disease causing free radicals. It has the ability of free radical fighting.  The free radicals are basically those unbalanced compounds which are created by the cellular processes which are present in the body mostly those which fight against the environmental toxins which our body is exposed to on a daily basis.

Antioxidants are known to be those compounds which are believed to neutralise these free radicals thereby protecting the body from their damage. Antioxidants are known to contain vitamins, minerals as well as phytochemicals. These are helpful plant compounds. One of the impressive attribute of dark chocolate is its high content level of antioxidant hence it is considered to be one of the top ten high antioxidant food item.

The next benefit is that dark chocolate helps in improving the health of the heart. Flavanols are considered to be one of the main type of flavonoid which is found in dark chocolate. As per research it has been seen that flavanols have shown a lot of positive effect on the health of the heart by ensuring that the blood pressure levels are kept low thereby improving the flow of blood to the heart as well as the brain. Flavanols are known to also make the blood platelets less sticky thereby enabling them to clot.