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25 jan 2022
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 Introduction to Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate is the perfect go-to in case you experience a sweet craving. Chocolate is believed to have been around for the past 4000 years and is derived from cacao beans. Chocolate originates from Central America which is where the Theobroma cacao thrive owing to the tropical climate. Today, these trees are grown in several places where the climate is conducive for their growth.

 

Chocolate provides certain nutritional benefits that are overlooked at times. Dark chocolate, in particular, has the most nutrients, while milk and white chocolate lag in this regard. This article will help you understand the nutrients found in this sweet treat.

Chocolate - Nutritional Facts

Dark chocolate is understood to be the healthiest form of chocolate and is even encouraged to be eaten in moderation as a healthy after-dinner treat. Chocolate contains caffeine as cacao beans are naturally caffeinated. It is loaded with fibre, iron, and tons of other minerals and flavanols. It may be consumed as a chocolate bar or incorporated into a wide range of desserts and sweet treats.

 

The nutritional profile of chocolate has been examined in the table featured below. It makes clear the nutrients found in a single ounce (or 28.34 grams) of dark chocolate containing 70 to 85 percent cacao solids.

Chocolate Nutrients

Chocolate Nutritional Value – 1 ounce (28.34 grams)

Calories

170

Carbohydrates

13 grams

Protein

2 grams

Fat

12 grams

Fibre

3 grams

Sugar

7 grams

 The Important Macronutrients and Micronutrients in Chocolate

To adequately understand the advantages associated with eating chocolate, it is only fair that you first understand the macronutrients and micronutrients available in this sinful treat. Apart from being rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fat, chocolate also contains several antioxidants.

 

As a rule of thumb, dark chocolate is the kind of chocolate under consideration here as it is the healthiest. The more pronounced macronutrients and micronutrients present in chocolate include the following:

Antioxidants

Several compounds found within dark chocolate have antioxidant properties such as polyphenols and flavanols. Antioxidants are valuable as they help neutralize free radicals and mitigate oxidative stress. Free radicals cause much damage to cells and tissues in the body. The natural process of ageing is partly attributed to oxidative stress. Excessive exposure to oxidative stress may potentially lead to several diseases ranging from heart disease and diabetes to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Fat

Close t0 50 percent of nutrients found within cacao beans are fat. Cacao beans contain two saturated fatty acids and a single monounsaturated acid. However, dark chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol levels. That being said, milk chocolate may adversely affect cholesterol levels.

Sugar

Cacao beans contain ample carbohydrates, the majority of which are in the form of starch, soluble and insoluble dietary fibres. A small proportion accounts for simple sugars. When chocolate bars are manufactured, sugar is ordinarily added to the same.

Theobromine

This mild stimulant is responsible for giving rise to a minor diuretic action which increases the number of times you urinate. This ingredient can be toxic to dogs, horses, cats, and parrots.

Caffeine

A modest amount of caffeine is found in chocolate.

Phenylethylamine

This minor antidepressant is a stimulant akin to dopamine and adrenaline produced by the body.

Serotonin

Chocolate is capable of increasing the serotonin found in the brain. Good serotonin levels can decrease depression and can help those experiencing PMS symptoms to feel better.

Essential Minerals

Cocoa beans used to make chocolate have several essential minerals that include zinc, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

Vitamins

Vitamins found in pure unadulterated dark chocolate include vitamins A, B1, B3, C, B2, and E, in addition to pantothenic acid.

Chocolate - Health Benefits

Chocolate should not be ignored as it has several health benefits. Consider some of the more pronounced health benefits associated with this delicious treat if you are hesitant to believe this.

Blood Flow Improves, Blood Pressure Lowers

Flavanols found in dark chocolate are capable of stimulating endothelium, which is the lining of the arteries. This can help produce nitric acid, which sends signals to calm down the arteries. This, in turn, lowers their resistance to blood flow and consequently helps lower blood pressure.

Cholesterol and Chocolate

A controlled study found that cacao powder helped lower oxidized LDL or bad cholesterol among men. The good cholesterol, HDL, also increased as a result of its consumption. Oxidized LDL is bad for you as it has reacted with free radicals. Flavanols found in dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance which is problematic for those diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes.

Chocolate is Good for Heart

The consumption of dark chocolate may help combat the oxidation of the bad LDL cholesterol, owing to which a lower amount is likely to lodge itself in the arteries. As a result, the risk of developing heart disease is lower.

Chocolate is Beneficial for Your Skin

Bioactive compounds found in dark chocolate can positively impact your skin. Flavanols in chocolate can also protect it against sun damage and improve blood flow to the skin. Skin density may also improve and you could benefit from the added hydration.

Conclusion

Chocolate is easily available in the market. However, you need to scan the label of the chocolate you buy to be aware of the percentage of cacao solids used and whether sugar has been added to it or not. The addition of sugar to chocolate takes away several of its health benefits and reduces the nutrients provided. Dark chocolate, in particular, is very healthy as it does not contain added milk solids.

 

While keeping track of your eating habits is a great way to keep your body healthy, there can be unforeseen events that may hamper your health. For such events, you can consider buying health insurance to cover your health expenses.

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