Nutrition

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits and Side Effects

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits and Side Effects

People share chocolate bars to denote love.

When some are sad or anxious, they munch on chocolate bars.

Old tales claim that chocolate bars are enriched with happiness and they are kids’ most favorite snacks.

However, I do apologize to spoil this sensational information for you but I need to point out that not all chocolate are good for your health.

The type of chocolate that you should embrace is the dark chocolate as research suggests that it is packed with many health benefits.

We delve deep to find out why you should opt for dark chocolate next time you go shopping.

From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that grow on cocoa trees which are found in most tropical climates across the world.

Once the cocoa pods have matured and left to dry, they are covered in a white pulp and left out in the sun to ferment.

It is the process of fermentation fermentation that brings out the chocolate flavors.

The difference between dark chocolate and other chocolates is the fact that it contains more than 70% of cocoa and does not contain milk.

The more than the cocoa in a chocolate bar, the higher the levels of antioxidants it contains.

According to a study published on The National Center for Biotechnology Information, the presence of milk in chocolate bars tends to bind up antioxidants making the bar less helpful to your body.

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

You will be surprised to know that the health benefits of dark chocolate dates back to more than  3000 years ago .

Some of the benefits you are certain to derive from dark chocolate include:

  1. Good for the Circulatory System

Studies conducted by the University of Southern California, University of Guadalajara in Mexico and Institute of Cardiology in Russia states that dark chocolate help to lower blood pressure.

This is due to the presence of photochemical referred to as flavonals as published in Studies .

study of overweight men done at the University of Wageningen, concluded that consuming dark chocolate daily for 4 weeks helps to restore flexibility in arteries.

Consumption of dark chocolate also helps to prevent white blood cells sticking to the walls of blood vessels.

This really helps in prevention of heart diseases as arterial rigidity can cause heart diseases.

  1. Boosts Cognitive Function

A study conducted by Dr. Georgie Crichton, of the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre of the University of California suggests that eating dark chocolate everyday can help to boost cognitive function.

The study, published on medical news today analyzed dark chocolate intake of participants over a 30-year period.

The questionnaire involved asking the participants how often they ate dark chocolate.

The subjects were assessed through activities such as visual spatial, working memory, verbal memory and organization.

The study concluded that participants who consumed dark chocolate daily performed better than those who rarely or never ate dark chocolate.

  1. High in Minerals

Dark chocolate is packaged with minerals that are part of antioxidants as.

Consuming an ounce of dark chocolate every day will benefit your body with recommended doses of minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

  1. Provides Insulin Sensitivity

Dark chocolate is recommended as it is rich in polyphenols.

If you are suffering from type 2 diabetes, consuming dark chocolate helps to increase sensitivity to insulin and also helps to onset type 2 diabetes for pre diabetic patients.

Another amazing reason why you should take dark chocolate if suffering from diabetes is the fact that it contains flavonoids.

In a study published, flavonoids help to reduce insulin resistance by helping the cells to function normally.

The presence of flavonoids in the dark chocolate also enables the cells to regain their ability to use body’s insulin efficiently.

It is also important to note that dark chocolate contains low glycemic index which helps to prevent huge spikes in blood sugar which could be very dangerous.

  1. Improves Your Mood

If you thought that the old tale about chocolate being a rich source of happy feeling was just hearsay, you are wrong.

Research has it that dark chocolate is rich in phenylthylamine (PEA), a chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you are falling in love or when very ecstatic.

The presence of PEA promotes the production of serotonin and endorphins.

Endorphins help to relieve pain and reduce stress while serotonin helps to make you feel happy.

  1. Helps Lower The Risk Of Cardiovascular Diseases

In a study involving about 470 elderly men, consumption of dark chocolate was found to have reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by more than 50% in a period of 15 years.

Another study states that eating dark chocolate more than two times in a week can help reduce the risk of calcified arteries by more than 37%.

  1. Increase Concentration Levels

study  states that dark chocolate has methylxanthines, a plant produced compound present in both coffee and tea.

Another  study had similar observation.

The compound helps to increase concentration in most individuals and also enhance memory.

Dark Chocolate Skin Benefits

Dark Chocolate Skin Benefits

Consumption of dark chocolate benefits your skin in various ways such as:

  1. Protects The Skin From The Sun

The bioactive compounds referred to as flavanols in dark chocolate is very great for your skin.

According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, these compounds help to increase skin hydration, density and improve blood flow.

If considering taking a vacation especially during summer, it is recommended that you park some sachets of dark chocolates as they will be helpful in prevention of UV rays damages.

  1. Helps Keep Your Skin Moist And Nourished.

The presence of antioxidants in dark chocolate helps to protect your skin from free radicals, keeping it soft, smooth and problem-free complexion.

If combined with caffeine, it also helps to detoxify the skin and allow newly exposed fresh skin to breathe freely.

Dark Chocolate Hair Benefits

If you consume dark chocolate, the benefits do not just end at the skin level.

Dark Chocolate Hair Benefits

Your hair also benefits in ways such as:

  1. Promotes Blood Circulation In Scalp

As stated in a study published in nutrition, consuming dark chocolate helps to promote blood circulation around the body.

The benefit of good blood circulation in the scalp is that it helps to increase healthy hair growth and reduce hair loss.

  1. Promotes Healthy Tresses

Dark chocolate is infused with anti-inflammatory properties that help to improve the health of the hair tresses and protect the scalp from infection.

Dark Chocolate for Weight Loss

If you are trying losing weight, here is another thing that you need to incorporate in your diet-dark chocolate.

There are many dark chocolate weight loss benefits which include but not limited to:

  1. Helps Cut Cravings

It might seem weird that chocolate can help to cut cravings but keep in mind that this is a property that is not in other chocolate bars but dark chocolate.

According to eat this, there are three hormones that are responsible for controlling cravings.

The hormones are insulin, ghrelin and leptin.

The presence of insulin in your body helps to control the transfer of sugar from the bloodstream to your body cells.

Ghrelin helps to increase appetite while leptin helps to reduce craving.

If you are insulin resistant, you are likely to have increased appetite and high craving for junk.

However, consumption of dark chocolate helps to decrease insulin resistance and the levels of ghrelin.

  1. Enhances Your Sense Of Wellbeing

Most people who have low self-esteem or are under stress tend to eat more food than what is recommended daily.

However, eating dark chocolate can help to enhance good feelings as it contains chemicals that promote this feeling as mentioned above.

According to a study by Swinburne University, Australia, the presence of polyphenols in dark chocolate increase chances of contentment and calmness.

  1. Improves Metabolism

A dark chocolate bar that contains more than 70% cocoa is very essential in your weight loss journey.

Studies suggest that dark chocolate affects fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

It helps to promote digestion and taking it at least two times in a week helps to give you a feeling of satiety.

  1. Decreases Body Fat

Multiple studies by different researchers suggest that the presence of flavonoids in dark chocolate helps to lower body fat and also blood sugar.

However, it is advisable that you take dark chocolate in moderation because if taken more than the recommended portions, it could result to weight gain.

  1. Decrease Bad Cholesterol

A study published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that dark chocolate helps to reduce bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol in your body.

The problem of bad cholesterol in the body is the fact that it might clog the arteries and veins causing them not to work normally.

Dark Chocolate Nutrition

When buying dark chocolate, it is advisable that you choose those with a concentration of more than 70% cocoa.

According to Nutrition Data,a 100 gram of dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa contains:

  • 67% of the RDA for Iron
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper
  • 98% of the RDA for manganese
  • 11 grams of fiber.

Dark Chocolate Ingredients

Some of the common ingredients in Excellence dark chocolate as mentioned in lindt include: cocoa mass, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, natural bean bourbon vanilla bean.

In some cases, it may contain peanuts, tree nuts, soy, sesame and wheat.

Cocoa powder is rich in antioxidants and very versatile as it can also be used in baking.

The presence of cocoa butter in dark chocolate makes it an amazing product to try because in as much as cocoa butter contains fat, it does not raise the cholesterol levels in your body.

Cocoa butter is considered as one of the most expensive ingredient in dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Calories

According  calorie King, 1oz of dark chocolate containing 70-85% cocoa has 175 calories.

To burn the 175 calories, you can try 47 minutes walking, 26 minutes cycling, 14 minutes swimming or 19 minutes jogging.

Dark Chocolate Recipes

There are so many meals that you can prepare using dark chocolate that you will be lost for choice.

One of these recipes  is chocolate smoothie.

To prepare it, you will need:

Ingredients

  • 1 green tea bag
  • 5g roasted cocoa nibs
  • 100ml hot water
  • 11/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 100g fresh or frozen blue berries

The above ingredients serve 2 people.

Method of Preparation

  • Put the green bags and the nibs in a bowl and pour over the hot water.
  • Allow to infuse for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bag and stir in the clear honey.
  • Add all the other ingredients and put into a blender.
  • Blitz until the ice has been broken down completely.
  • Serve while cold.

Dark Chocolate Side Effects

Even though dark chocolate is highly praised for the numerous health benefits, experts urge that it is important that you take this product in moderation because it contains some side effects that may be disastrous to your health.

Some of the side effects of dark chocolate include:

  1. Worsens Diarrhea

If you are having diarrhea, you might consider consulting your doctor before you consume dark chocolate.

Studies suggest that the presence of caffeine in dark chocolate can worsen diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.

  1. Complicates Surgery

Because of the role it plays in regulation of blood sugar, dark chocolate may complicate a surgery due to the interference with the flow of blood in your body.

It is recommended that you avoid eating dark chocolate or any other chocolate for that matter at least two weeks before the scheduled surgery.

  1. Triggers Migraine Headaches

If you are a sensitive person especially to caffeine, you might experience migraine headaches if you consume dark chocolate in large portions.

  1. Harmful To Pets

If you have a pet, it is advisable that you do not feed it with dark chocolate because it contains a stimulant referred to as theobromine which is impossible for animals to digest.

Special Warnings

  • For pregnant women, it is highly advisable that you should take dark chocolate in moderation because the presence of caffeine in the chocolate can affect the health of the unborn baby.

Some studies suggest that the caffeine if high may cross the placenta thus interfering with the concentration of fetal blood levels.

  • If lactating, you should also not indulge in too much dark chocolate because the caffeine does not go well with infants and may result to irritability and many bowel movements.
  • If allergic to chocolate, it would be better if you avoided any type of chocolate bars unless your doctor authorizes you to take it.

Qualities to Look For In a Dark Chocolate

There are many varieties of chocolate brands and you may end up confused.

To make things easier for you, here are some tips to guide you:

  • Opt for dark chocolate that has unblemished and smooth surface. You should also checkout for streaks and dots as good dark chocolate do not contain such.
  • Pay attention to the texture .Do not pick one that is grainy or greasy and opt for dark chocolate with velvety texture.

Dark Chocolate Usage Tips

  • When brewing, it is advisable that you do not add water as this can harden the chocolate and you might end up ruining a great beverage by just a simple mistake.
  • Ensure that you keep the heat under control to avoid melting the chocolate at very high heat which might interfere with the taste and flavor.
  • If munching on dark chocolate bar, do not chew as this may result to teeth cavities. You should eat it the same manner that you eat ice cream.
  • If dark chocolate sticks on your teeth, ensure that you brush the teeth so as to ensure that the bacteria do not feed on the remains of it which could result to tooth decay.

In terms of prices, it might be more expensive than other types of chocolate bars but most reviewers say that you get the value of your money when you buy dark chocolate. Lindt Excellence Extra Dark Chocolate is the most sold dark chocolate on amazon as per today.

Different Brands of Dark Chocolate

Having expounded deep on the health benefits and the side effects, it is safe to say that dark chocolate is a must have product if you wish to lose weight and also derive other health benefits.

It is important that you keep in mind that too much of anything can result  to more harm than benefits. Ensure that you take your dark chocolate in moderation and enjoy all the health benefits it offers .

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