Chocolate lovers have a big cause to be when the benefits of antioxidants found in chocolates are so much talked about, but it is very important to realize that not all chocolates are created the same, not even related. The health benefits of processed and highly sweetened chocolates are similar to none, but the health benefits of dark chocolates are more and really impressive. Look out for dark chocolate when you receive a chocolate hamper from a gift or flower delivery company.
What are dark chocolates ?
Dark chocolates are originally made from cocoa. All the process of chocolates starts as harvested cacao beans to the plant’s seed pods. After the harvest, the cacao beans are fermented and dried before they are been sent off for further production. Pure cacao and pure cocoa powder are antioxidants and have their health benefits. Furthermore, raw cacao powder is different because it does not really undergo any heating and therefore has a lot more nutrients and health contents. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans so it sustains more of its own natural goodness while cocoa powder is typically heated at a much higher temperature. Dutched cocoa also gets washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes its acidity, which will give it a darker color and a mellow flavor.
Dark chocolate is also generally called semisweet chocolates while extra dark chocolate is often considered the same thing as bittersweet, although the ratio between cocoa butter to solids may vary between the different varieties. According to the FDA, semisweet chocolates or bittersweet chocolates are sweet chocolate that contains nothing less than 35 percent by weight of pure cocoa. Semisweet and bittersweet cocoa are both used in baking, and although the FDA has defined them in the same way, bittersweet chocolates typically have a deep flavor and less sweetness than semisweet chocolate. Unsweetened chocolates are usually almost 100% cocoa with no sweetness whatsoever.
Dark chocolates are loaded with nutrients that can positively have an effect on your health. Made from the seeds of a cocoa tree, it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on earth. Studies show that dark chocolate can increase your health and lower the risk of developing heart disease.
I will personally recommend eating a small amount of minimally processed dark chocolates with about 70 percent cocoa content or more. This type of chocolates is healthy chocolates that contain very powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar, providing the most benefits of dark chocolates you will get.
8 Awesome Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals
One of everyone’s favorite benefits of dark chocolates is the fact that it is a free radical fighting ability. Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, most especially those that fight against environmental toxins we are exposed to daily. Antioxidants are compounds that are believed to neutralize the free radicals and protect the body from their damage.
Antioxidants such as vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals plant compounds. One of dark chocolate’s most impressive feature is its high antioxidant content.
Two groups under antioxidants prevalence in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has actually been proven to have the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. So the higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more antioxidants you will consume.
2. Potential Cancer Prevention
It seems too hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you love to eat may also help you ward off cancer. That’s right to be one of the benefits of dark chocolate is its ability as a cancer-fighting food.
3. Improved Heart Health
Flavanols are the major type of flavonoid found in dark chocolates. Research has shown that flavanols have a positive effect on your heart health by helping lower your blood pressure and improving the flow of blood to the heart as well as the brain. Dark chocolate flavanols can help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot and decrease the risk of blood clots and stroke.
4. Good for Overall Cholesterol Profile
The quantity of cocoa butter found in the dark chocolate contains equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which is also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. It’s been proven that stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid happens to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means it doesn’t increase it or decrease it. The palmitic acid in dark chocolates can increase cholesterol levels, but hopefully, it’s only a makes up of about a small portion of the fat in dark chocolate plus dark chocolates have a lot of great plant nutrients that make up for palmitic acid.
5. Better Cognitive Function
Dark chocolate makes my list of brain foods that boost focus and memory for good reasoning. Previous research made us know that acute as well as chronic ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to the cerebral gray matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols are beneficial in conditions of decreased cerebral blood flow, including dementia and stroke.
6. Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid
There are already 75 scientific articles looking at the dark chocolate and blood pressure. A recent study compares type 2 diabetics’ consumption of white chocolate and a high-cocoa, polyphenol-rich dark chocolates. The subjects consumed 25 grams, a little under one ounce of dark or white chocolates for about eight weeks. The researchers found that not only did dark chocolates reduce the blood pressure of the hypertensive diabetics, but it also decreased fasting blood sugar.
Of course, if you are a diabetic person, the higher the cocoa content also means the lower the sugar content, and the better. It is also key to note that this was a very small amount of dark chocolate per day as at 0.88 ounces.
7. Antioxidant-Rich Superfood
The total quantity of flavanol and polyphenol content, as well as antioxidant activities content of dark Chocolates and cocoa powder, were compared with superfruits like
Acai, blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate. The dark chocolates, cocoa powders and cocoa beverage in the research all contained natural and non-alkalized cocoa. This is important to note because the alkalinization of cocoa has been proven to destroy healthy polyphenolic compounds.
8. Potential Vision Booster
While it might be too early to truly list improvements in vision as a concrete benefit of dark chocolates, on June 2018 human clinical trial observes how the compare sensitivity and visual acuity of thirty participants without pathologic eye disease changed after eating dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Researchers found contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were about two hours after eating a dark chocolate bar compared to eating milk chocolates. The study, however, concludes the timing of these effects and their real-world implications would require further testing.