You read that right: The smooth, sweet, irresistible guilty pleasure can be part of a healthy diet.
Yes Chocolate, Dark Chocolate.
Dark chocolate is chocolate that is made primarily with sugar, cocoa and cocoa butter, and does not contain milk or milk solids. The amount of sugar, cocoa and cocoa butter can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but it is the lack of milk that really distinguishes dark chocolate from milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate is basically defined to be at least 35% pure chocolate or Cocoa. The highest the percentage of cocoa beans in the chocolate, the better it is for health. The best is over 85% of cocoa beans in it.
Next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel overly guilty about it. You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as once believed. Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of health benefits associated with this delicious treat. Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes and dental cavities.
Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds which is a plant that contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants.
After the discovery of the Americas, chocolate became very popular in Europe, and its demand exploded.
Chocolate has since become an incredibly popular food product that millions indulge in everyday for its unique, rich, and sweet taste.
Dark chocolate has recently been discovered to have a number of healthy benefits. While eating dark chocolate can lead to the health benefits described below, remember that chocolate is also high in fat.
1) Chocolate Good for Your Heart
Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Chocolate may lower cholesterol levels and Chocolate consumption may help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, which is the “bad” Cholesterol. 2) Chocolate is Good for Your Brain
Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. It also helps reduce your risk of stroke. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result. 3) Chocolate May prevent memory decline Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help keep the brain healthy and prevent memory decline in older people.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. 4) Chocolate Makes you feel happy
Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health, as a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier. 5) Chocolate Controls Blood Sugar
Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels. 6) Chocolate Helps prevent dental cavity
Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities if you practice proper dental hygiene.
Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. It can, however, help to suppress coughs. 7) Chocolate is full of antioxidants
Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging. 8) Chocolate is High in Vitamins and Minerals
Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health. Dark chocolate contains some of the following vitamins and minerals in high concentrations:
Potassium , Copper, magnesium and Iron.
The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
TYPES OF CHOCOLATE :
-Unsweetened – 85-100%
-Bittersweet – 65-80%
-Semisweet – 35-60%
-Milk Chocolate – 10-20%
-White Chocolate – 0%
Now that you are a little better informed about the wonder that is dark chocolate we wish you happy eating. But don’t start celebrating this good news with morning, noon and night chocolate bar binges. For now, enjoy moderate portions of chocolate a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries. And never forget that if you load up on chocolate for its benefits, then that’s going to send your weight up.