Dark Chocolate; Types, Nutritional Value, Recipes, Health Benefits

Dark Chocolate








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Dark Chocolate is a sweet, brown preparation of roasted or ground Theobroma cacao seeds. It is found in liquid, paste, or solid block form. The three essential components of chocolate are cocoa (scientific name – Theobroma cacao L.), milk, and sugar. It’s equally dear to the young and the old and to men and women and this mouth-watering treat, which has been around for more than 3000 years, can be very beneficial for your health.[1]Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols, and is relatively low in sugar. It has a reputation as a healthier alternative to other types of chocolate, such as milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has been identified as a potential “superfood”.This has helped lead to a global increase in demand for dark chocolate

Nutritional Value of Dark Chocolate

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,708.42 kJ (647.33 kcal)
Carbohydrates
45.90 g
Sugars 23.99 g
Dietary fiber 10.9 g
Fat
42.63 g
Saturated 24.489 g
Trans 0.030 g
Monounsaturated 12.781 g
Polyunsaturated 1.257 g
Protein
7.79 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
Vitamin A equiv.
0%

2 μg

Vitamin A 39 IU
Thiamine (B1)
3%

0.034 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
7%

0.078 mg

Niacin (B3)
7%

1.076 mg

Vitamin B6
29%

0.38 mg

Vitamin E
4%

0.59 mg

Vitamin K
7%

7.3 μg

Minerals Quantity%DV
Calcium
7%

73 mg

Iron
92%

11.90 mg

Magnesium
64%

228 mg

Phosphorus
44%

308 mg

Potassium
15%

715 mg

Sodium
1%

20 mg

Zinc
35%

3.31 mg

Other constituents Quantity
Water 1.37 g
Caffeine 80 mg
Cholesterol 3 mg
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

  • Reduces Heart Risks Consuming chocolate reduces cardiovascular risks by one-third. [2] Stearic acid, in spite of being a saturated fatty acid found in cocoa, does not contribute to cholesterol levels and can reduce the possibility of heart attacks and atherosclerosis which is caused by inflammation of arteries. Cocoa is also known to reduce the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. The antioxidant properties of the flavonoids also protect the heart against damages inflicted by the free radicals.
  • Appetite Control – Chocolate’s higher variant, dark chocolate is also known to suppress appetite. Consuming dark chocolate gives a feeling of being full which helps avoid overeating.
  • Maintains Nervous System – A study suggests that epicatechin and flavonoids, compounds present in dark chocolate, may help protect the brain from strokes. [3] These compounds are also found to be helpful in the treating nervous disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Treats Cough & Cold – Cocoa, due to vitamin-C, alkaloids, and flavonoids present in it gives relief from coughs and colds. The fatty acids such as stearic acid, palmitic acid, and oleic acid in it provide relief from a sore throat, continuous coughing and colds. [4]
  • Manages Diabetes – Dark and sugar-free chocolate (cocoa) is very bitter to taste due to the presence of alkaloids like caffeine and others. The bitterness of these alkaloids neutralizes the sugar in the blood. Moreover, being a stimulant in nature, they stimulate the secretion of bile and insulin, which again help to break down the sugar, resulting in lower blood sugar levels.[5]
  • Antidepressant – Cocoa contains caffeine which is an alkaloid, theobromine, and phenylethylamine (an amine, particularly known to be anti-depressant) all of which are stimulant in nature. They are very effective mood elevators and antidepressants. [6] 
  • High In Antioxidants – As mentioned above, dark chocolate hosts a range of potent antioxidants. These antioxidants protect your skin from free radical damage; keeping it soft, supple and juvenile for long.[7]
  • Protects Skin From UV Damage – With great sun protection properties, it shields your skin against detrimental UV rays and thus helps in preventing conditions like sunburns and skin cancer.[8]
  • Provides Nourishment – Regular consumption of dark chocolate helps you achieve a smooth, problem-free complexion. It also keeps your skin moist and well nourished.
  • Excellent Skin-Detoxifier – Dark chocolate makes an excellent skin-detoxifier in combination with caffeine. It sloughs off the dead skin cells and allows the newly exposed, fresh skin to breathe freely.
  • Promotes Skin Glow – Stress is a huge beauty bummer. If not checked, it can ruin your entire personality. Dark chocolate boasts wonderful stress-relieving qualities and works wonders in getting you a glowing skin by reducing elevated stress hormones.[9]
  • Reduces Hair Loss – It helps in promoting blood circulation in the scalp which leads to increased growth of healthy, lustrous locks. Thanks to being a circulation-booster, it is also found to be very effective in reducing hair loss.[10]
  • Boosts Hair Volume – Infused with the goodness of several hair-benefiting ingredients, dark chocolate improves the overall health of your tresses, making them super-glossy and voluminous.
  • Treats Scalp Infections – With incredible anti-inflammatory properties, it also helps minimize the odds of getting scalp infections.
  • Heart Diseases – Dark chocolate contains antioxidants such as flavonoids. Antioxidants are the best elements that a body can receive or produce as they have the capacity to prevent aging by free radicals that can also cause heart diseases.[11]
  • Blood Sugar Levels – It is hard to believe that a sugar-enriched substance can balance the blood sugar levels, but it is true! The amount of sugar in dark chocolate does not affect your body much as its glycemic index is low. And the flavonoids that it is enriched with aids the influence that insulin offers on the sugar levels.[12]
  • Cholesterol – It is no myth that cholesterol clogs the veins and arteries and doesn’t let them function normally. But dark chocolate serves to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the arteries and heart.
  • Mood Booster – Stress is a bad factor, and one should steer clear of it as much as possible! The contents of dark chocolate help in the production of endorphins which are produced by the brain cells and are known to alleviate the mood. It stimulates the brain cells and is known to relax a person.[13]
  • Skin Protection – The content of flavonoids in the dark chocolate has been found to have positive effects on the body. One such effect is providing protection against the harmful UV rays of the Sun.
  • Stroke Prevention – The increased levels of flavonoids like epicatechin are known to protect the brain against strokes. This is found in dark chocolate in a good quantity. The nerve cells of people consuming dark chocolate are less prone to a stroke as compared to people who do not consume dark chocolate.[14]
  • Anemia Cure – The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help in curing anemia and providing a treatment to those with a poor diet.
  • Eyesight Improvement – Studies have also shown that the flavonoids in dark chocolate help to improve blood flow to the brain. This further helps to improve eyesight also on account of better blood flow.
  • Cognitive Function – The cognitive function in the human body is enhanced by the consumption of dark chocolate as it improves the blood flow to the brain.[15]
  • Full Of Protein – Drinking chocolate milk after exercising is great for our health because it is full of protein. If you are having one cup of milk, you will be consuming 8 to11 grams of protein. So, if you would like to consume around 17 to 25 grams of protein, you will have to drink around 500 to 700 and 50 ml of chocolate milk. This will act fast on your body, repair all those tissues and help you gain muscle mass. The content of protein in your drink will actually give you lean and fit muscles.
  • The content of Carbohydrates – Chocolate milk also contains carbohydrates, which is great for your health, especially if you have been lifting a whole lot of weights. The count of carbohydrates also depends on the product you use. Different products have different content and levels of carbohydrates. Hershey’s Chocolate Milk seems to have the highest carb count whereas Hoods Calorie Countdown has the lowest. The sugar in this will boost your energy and restore it. You will be able to work out harder and better next time you hit the gym. In fact, this will help you enjoy the workout better. If your muscle tissues tear up, this will stop them from getting sore. In fact, they will get repaired on their own.[16]
  • Increases Your Endurance – So, if you have been working out for a couple of weeks or are preparing yourself for a marathon soon, you would probably need something that will increase your endurance and help you work out or practice for a longer period. In that case, what could be better than chocolate milk? This will take good care of your body, boost strength and energy and help you give a hundred percent!
  • Makes You Stronger – Chocolate milk is also something that will make you stronger and healthier in the long run. If you take it at least three times a week after your workout, you will see changes in your body. You will also become stronger. Weights that couldn’t be lifted earlier will now become a little easier than last time. If you gave up too quickly while running or swimming, this drink will keep you going.[17]
  • Reduces Stress – Cocoa contains tryptophan, an amino acid which has relaxing effects. This has soothing and refreshing effects in cases of tension and stress.
  • Regulates Blood Pressure – Flavonoids in cocoa contain polyphenols like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins, which have been seen to increase nitric oxide levels in the blood, which helps in maintaining proper blood pressure. Nitric oxide helps to prevent thickening of the blood and maintaining fluidity, thereby decreasing pressure on the arteries and veins and finally regulating blood pressure.[18]On the other hand, in the case of people suffering from low blood pressure, the stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, as well as the sugar present in chocolate, helps elevate blood pressure to correct levels.
  • Improves Oxidation – Polyphenols like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins present in cocoa are very good antioxidants. They minimize the effects of free radicals and heal the damage already caused by these dangerous cellular byproducts.
  • Fetal Growth – Consuming chocolate during pregnancy not only elevates the mood of the mother but also helps to pass on the happiness to the fetus. [19] Studies show that it has a positive effect on the growth and health of the newborn.
  • Higher Intelligence – Chocolate makes you more awake and alert, which indirectly also aids in increasing intelligence. Flavonoids boost the blood flow to the brain. A study says, feeding chocolate to your child during exams would increase your child’s math solving abilities. [2]
  • Improves Vision – It’s not only carrots that improve your eyesight. Chocolate boosts vision by increasing the blood flow to the brain and retina. [21] 
  • Improves Energy Levels – Fatty acids like stearic acid and palmitic acid (both saturated) and oleic acid (unsaturated) help put on weight and give energy, without the risk of accumulating cholesterol, as far as pure cocoa is concerned. When cocoa is made into chocolate, the amount of cholesterol you get depends on the type of milk (toned, semi-toned or full cream) and milk products (butter, milk solids) used in it and the exercises you do. The sugar in chocolate also gives energy and relaxes the body.[22]
  • Acts as a Prebiotic – High flavonoids present in chocolates increase the good bacteria in the gut. [23] This helps in the better breakdown of food, ultimately increasing the elimination of toxic waste from the body.
  • Relieves Sunburn – The presence of flavonoids increases skin density and thickness. It also helps to reduce the effect of UV rays on the skin, thus, protecting you from sunburn. [24] Chocolate also guarantees a well-hydrated healthy skin, which doubles up as an anti-aging formula. [11]
  • Cures Diarrhea – Cocoa, due to its alkaloids, has been traditionally used against diarrhea. A study confirms this benefit as it found that the flavonoids in the cocoa bind to a protein that regulates the fluid secretion in the intestine, ultimately regularizing the bowel movement. [25]
  • Prevents Cancer – Flavonoids in cocoa are good anti-carcinogens. They prevent the growth of cancerous cells. [26] This is aided by their antioxidant properties, which also help neutralize the carcinogenic effects of free radicals.
  • Natural Aphrodisiac – Theobromine and phenethylamine are two compounds that are supposed to be aphrodisiac in nature and may be due to their stimulating properties. Further studies are needed to confirm the findings. [27]
  • Storehouse of Minerals – Cocoa is also rich in minerals like iron (good for blood), calcium (good for bones), magnesium (cures acidity and improves digestion), copper (disinfectant), and potassium (regulates blood pressure).

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_chocolate
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6453
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026398
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11684527
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5626948/

Dark Chocolate

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