Those who fantasize about indulging in chocolate 24 hours a day now have a reason to celebrate. Most of us enjoy dark chocolate, but we may have avoided it for various reasons, such as how it affected our gums and others. However, studies have proven that the bittersweet delight of dark chocolate (sorry, milk and white chocolate don’t count) is loaded with antioxidants and minerals.
Dark Chocolate and Science
Flavonoids, which are found in dark chocolate, are a type of phytonutrient that has been linked to potential benefits for your health, including lowering your risk of cancer and maintaining a healthy heart, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science.
Scientists say that theobromine, which is found in the cacao plant (which is used to make chocolate), may help reduce inflammation and may also help lower blood pressure. According to studies, cacao contains more antioxidants than either green tea or red wine. But there must be a good way to get the health benefits and still enjoy your dark chocolate.
Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health says to choose a bar with 70% cacao or more because bars with less cacao have more added sugar and bad fats. Quality dark chocolate is preferable to milk chocolate, but it is still chocolate, and thus it has a lot of calories and saturated fat.
Nutritional Values As well As Facts of Dark Chocolate
100 grams of Dark Chocolate which has 70-85% cacao content has the following:
- Calories: 604
- Magnesium: 230.00 mg
- Carbohydrates: 46.36 g
- Dietary fiber: 11.00 g
- Zinc: 3.34 mg
- Protein: 7.87 g
- Sugar: 24.23 g
- Iron: 12.02 mg
- Fat: 43.06 g
Its high antioxidant and flavonoid content means it can help keep inflammation at bay and cell damage to a minimum. Collectively, these have been shown to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, and even aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Dark chocolate with a cacao level of at least 70% is necessary to reap these health advantages. You shouldn’t eat more than 30–40 grams of this delectable delicacy every day. If you consume more than that, you might be taking in too many calories and too much caffeine, both of which can lead to stomach upset, rapid heart rate, and an inability to fall asleep.
However, eating more than 1 ounce (oz) of dark chocolate daily might lead to weight gain, so stick to that amount. Now, let’s examine the advantages of this snack.
1. Eating dark chocolate might be quite helpful for your heart
Heart disease and stroke are two of the most common health problems in the Western world, yet eating dark chocolate may help prevent both, which is one of the major benefits, according to studies.
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in July 2020 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that eating chocolate once a week is linked to an 8% lower risk of clogged arteries.
In addition, a May 2021 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that eating 1 oz of chocolate on a regular basis was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease. This study assessed data from more than 188,000 veterans.
Recent studies have found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate are what make it good for your heart. The American Journal of Physiology published a review that found these molecules help make nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Many of these studies are observational, which means that people may not be telling the truth about how much chocolate they eat, which could change the results. But another big problem is that the studies can’t show a cause-and-effect link between the variables.
One meta-analysis, published in Nutrients, took this uncertainty into account but still came to the conclusion that chocolate probably helps lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
2. Possible improvement in an emotional state, recall, and mental performance
It’s not all in your head: eating dark chocolate with a high cacao content, like 70%, may be good for your brain. Eating chocolate can help you feel less stressed and better about yourself because it makes your brain’s pleasure and reward centers work more.
Many studies have brought into focus the specific ways in which chocolate influences mental function. Positive effects on memory, cognition, and mood may result from eating just 48 grams, or a little more than 1.5 oz, of organic chocolate with 70 percent cacao.
A study published in April 2018 in The FASEB Journal found that flavonoids, which are strong plant parts found in cacao beans, tend to build up in parts of the brain that are important for memory and learning. In fact, the results showed that ingesting dark chocolate reduced the risk of clinical depression.
Even though these results are interesting (especially if you like sweets), more research and studies with larger sample sizes are needed to figure out how they work. Keep that in mind before you go buy a ton of candy bars. In the trials, the average amount of chocolate eaten each day was much higher (maximum of 1.5 oz).
3. Good means to check your blood sugar level
Dark chocolate may help lower blood sugar and protect against diabetes because it has antioxidants. Even though it seems counterintuitive, a healthy diet that includes a moderate amount of dark chocolate high in cacao may help the body better use glucose, which may lower the risk of diabetes.
StatPearls wrote in a March 2019 article that type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, which in turn causes high blood sugar levels. A study published in October 2017 in the Journal of Community and Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives found that flavonoids in dark chocolate lower oxidative stress, which is the main cause of insulin resistance.
The chance of developing disorders like diabetes can be decreased by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The risk of acquiring diabetes was nearly double among people who ate chocolate very rarely compared to those who ate dark chocolate at least once a week.
Researchers believe that dark chocolate has many health benefits, but more research is needed to understand whether or not eating chocolate raises the chance of developing diabetes.
4. Chocolate is beneficial to the digestive system and might even aid in weight loss
Although it may seem counterintuitive to eat chocolate every day in order to lose weight, studies have shown that dark chocolate may help curb appetite and hence aid in weight loss. In his book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, neuroscientist, and author Will Clower, Ph.D., explains how consuming a small amount of dark chocolate before or after a meal can increase the production of hormones that tell the brain that it is full. However, eating more than the suggested daily quantity can cancel out any weight loss, and eating dark chocolate won’t make up for a poor diet overall.
Evidence from the past suggests that during digestion, chocolate acts like a prebiotic (not to be confused with a probiotic), a type of fiber that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the stomach. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, having a greater number of “good” microorganisms in your system improves nutrient absorption and promotes metabolic health.
Research published in June 2021 in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that even milk chocolate can help people lose weight by speeding up their metabolism and making them less hungry. Also, keep in mind that chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is very high in calories and that eating too much of it will have no positive effects on your health.
5. It Suppresses the Growth of Mutated Cells and May Help Prevent Cancer
There is a small but growing amount of evidence that dark chocolate may protect against some types of cancer. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have been linked to aging and illness. Antioxidants prevent this damage from happening.
Because chocolate has a lot of flavonoids, the American Cancer Society says it can help prevent cancer. Cell damage is a precursor to many types of cancer. Previous studies have shown that one of the flavonoids in chocolate, called epicatechin, is what makes the food good at fighting cancer.
According to the USDA, chocolate is also a good source of magnesium. A study published in January 2022 in the journal Cell found that the body’s immune cells can only find abnormal or contaminated cells in an environment with a lot of magnesium.
But most studies are done on animals or in labs, and the amount of chocolate thought to be needed to protect against cancer is much higher than what is usually recommended for humans.
6. Benefits for the Skin, (in More Ways Than One)
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, dark chocolate has a number of vitamins and minerals that are good for your skin. These include copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese, among others. Manganese helps make collagen, which is an important protein for keeping skin young and healthy. In a number of studies, it has been shown that the high level of antioxidants in dark chocolate protects the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Although other studies did not find that chocolate’s high levels of antioxidants protected them from sun damage, they did find that eating chocolate after sun exposure improved skin suppleness.
7. Eating Dark Chocolate May Raise Good Cholesterol and Lower Bad Cholesterol
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol, dropped significantly in overweight and obese people who ate a handful of cholesterol-lowering foods like almonds, dark chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa. The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in November 2017.
According to Dubost, the cocoa butter in dark chocolate may also contribute to increased levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. According to the NLM, oleic acid, which is present in cocoa butter, is a monounsaturated fat that is also present in olive oil, which is good for your heart. USDA data shows that similar to olive oil, cocoa butter has a lot of saturated fat, the kind that can damage your heart if you eat too much of it.
Even if chocolate does lower cholesterol, DuBost notes that much of the research on chocolate and good cholesterol is short-term, so it would be premature to suggest that chocolate is a cholesterol cure-all.
Dark chocolate may have additional advantages, but its nutrient density is certain. A review that came out in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health says that antioxidants, fiber, potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium can be found in dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more. The darker the chocolate, the more of these nutrients it will have.
Be wary of your daily calorie and fat intake because it’s rather high. The processing of chocolate varies widely from one brand to the next; according to Amidor, the best chocolate is always organic because it is produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (look for Rainforest Alliance Certified products). She also says that you should read labels carefully to choose chocolate with few or no added ingredients.
Approximately how much dark chocolate should one eat in one sitting?
According to Peart, a serving amount of dark chocolate is between one and two ounces, or 30 and 60 grams. You’d be surprised at how much chocolate there is. In the case of chocolate, one ounce is about the same as three finger-thin squares cut from a larger bar. Similar to wine, dark chocolate is best enjoyed slowly and in small amounts.
Is it advisable to consume daily servings of dark chocolate?
Sugary foods should be enjoyed in moderation. There is a common misunderstanding that “well, dark chocolate is good for me, so I can have however much I want,” as Peart puts it. The flavanols in dark chocolate are powerful antioxidants.
Yet these arguments aren’t strong enough to convince us that this food item belongs on your regular menu. It’s a high-calorie food when compared to its weight. It’s something that should be enjoyed, but only in moderation.
Peart says that eating dark chocolate should be looked at the same way that eating nuts should be looked at. Due to their high-fat content and satisfying fullness, both are also heavy in calories. Minimalist eating is the way to go.
Peart says that eating dark chocolate should be looked at in the same way that eating nuts should be looked at in terms of “flavor.” Peart speaks of the chocolate’s high cocoa content and a high percentage of cocoa solids. It doesn’t take much chocolate for us to appreciate it.
Given its robust flavor, dark chocolate is, without a doubt, an acquired preference. “Most people don’t care for it the first time when they go for it,” Peart explains. In her opinion, less-bitter dark chocolate is a good place to begin, and you can always work your way up from there. “We suggest you start with 50% dark chocolate and work your way up to 65%, 70%, and even more.”
Even though it has a few drawbacks, dark chocolate is still a better option if you’re looking for a satisfying way to end a meal. And, as Peart points out, you can eat less of it while still feeling full. It’s reassuring to eat dark chocolate. It sends a message to your brain, telling it to “feel full.” We recommend starting with 50% dark chocolate and working your way up to 70%.
To sum up, can we say that dark chocolate is good for you?
Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits if the cocoa solids content is high enough. If you want to get the most health benefits from flavonols, choose a treat with at least 70% cocoa. For the most intense flavor, choose a dark chocolate bar with 80% cocoa or more.
How much dark chocolate you can have as part of a healthy diet is conditional on your health and dietary objectives. An occasional square or two of dark chocolate is usually all that’s needed to satisfy a sweet tooth. The trick is to discover your sweet spot and use it sparingly. Also, you should always talk to your doctor or another health care professional before adding dark chocolate to your diet if you already have health problems or are at risk of getting sick.
Disclaimer: The author’s views are his or her own. The facts and opinions in the article have been taken from various articles and commentaries available in the online media and Eastside Writers does do not take any responsibility or obligation for them.
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