There is nothing more pleasurable than biting into a dark chocolate bar when you are depressed or tired. Originally from Central and South America, the oldest record of dark chocolate dates back to 1900B.C.
in the Mexican region of Veracruz, where it is shown that cocoa was already praised and consecrated by prehispanic Mesoamerican cultures, it was rather consumed with ritualistic and ceremonial purposes. The drink has evolved over time, going from a cold fermentation to the presentations we know today: powder, liquid, bar.
The cocoa tree grows in equatorial regions worldwide and is full of nutrients. This tree gives a fruit the size of a coconut and inside the fruit is the seed of the tree – the cocoa bean. When harvested cocoa beans are typically fermented for up to a week and dried in the sun. They are then packaged and shipped to chocolate makers worldwide.
Dark Chocolate Benefits
Several studies have focused on investigating the full benefits of dark chocolate for health.
Improves musculoskeletal function.
According to a study by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), Mexico, dark chocolate could improve musculoskeletal function.
Researchers detail that some people with heart failure and type 2 diabetes would be the main beneficiaries.
A Dutch study in 470 men during 15 years found that men with the highest cocoa consumption were half as likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who consumed the least amount of cocoa. The researchers suggested two possible reasons for these results: flavonoids in cocoa improved blood vessel function, and high levels of antioxidants stopped LDL cholesterol formation on arterial walls.
Lowers blood pressure
Research from the University of Cologne in Germany, suggests that daily intake of six grams of dark chocolate controls levels of blood pressure.In another study, participants who ate dark chocolate lowered their cholesterol about 10% and significantly reduced their blood pressure. Interestingly, participants in the group of “control” who ate white chocolate, which does not contain significant amounts of flavonoids (contains only cocoa butter), did not experience a reduction in blood pressure.
Based on these and other research findings, the American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that people who consume daily a portion the size of a bar of dark chocolate rich in flavonoids, could lower their blood pressure and actually improve their long-term sugar blood. Although the AHA does not specify the exactly equivalent “size of a bar,” research suggests that 1 to 2 ounces a day are safe.
The flavonoids in chocolate have also been linked to other health benefits. Two substances, in particular, epicatechin and quercetin , have been shown to have anticancer effects. And some studies in Europe, Asia, and North America have found that people who consume a diet rich in flavonoids from chocolate or cocoa have lower incidents of cancer than those who eat fewer flavonoids
Dark Chocolate Aids in Weight loss
According to another study by the University of California, San Diego, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, dark chocolate reduces body mass index, but when consumed in moderation, combined with a balanced diet and exercise.Cocoa can help you lose weight in several ways.
First, it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. This chemical regulates your mood and also suppresses the appetite, which means you consume fewer calories in the long term. Cocoa powder is also very low in calories, with only 90 in one portion. This makes losing weight and reducing calories an easy task.
Dark chocolate has numerous natural antioxidants. Dark chocolate uncooked, not only has a strong flavor but is also rich in antioxidants that protect cells.It actually contains eight times more antioxidants than strawberries.
Hundreds of studies have shown that antioxidants are essential to protect the body against aging caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are natural compounds found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and especially in the cocoa bean.
Chocolate of any kind can have high fat, calories, and sugar content. However, the type of fat in the dark chocolate is not bad, since it is mainly oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil.
However, the more chocolate is processed, less flavonoids remain. Moreover, many chocolate candies contain too many sugars and other additives, and very few flavonoids, as to assert any health benefit.
Dark chocolate, which is high in cocoa content in its purest form, contains no added milk fat (only pure cocoa butter), and probably healthier than his counterpart combined with milk. The general recommendation is two ounces per week.
Infographic from Visually.
References: Lahey Clinic | Health Info – Systemic Lupus, https://www.lahey.org/Departments_and_Locations/Departments/Rheumatology/Ebsco_C (accessed July 02, 2016).
The Delicious Health Benefits of Chocolate, http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-chocolate/ (accessed July 02, 2016).