Dark chocolate is more beneficial than other types because it contains polyphenols. However, experts recommend eating it in moderation because it contains sugar, fat, and calories; therefore, consuming large amounts of it may lead to weight gain and other adverse effects.
Dark chocolate, the finest antioxidant on the earth, is made from cacao tree seeds. Antioxidants play a significant role in protecting the body from free radicals, which contribute to heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Chocolate is prepared from cocoa beans whose origins go back to Central America, where the cocoa tree (scientific name: Theobroma cacao) is grown in the tropics. The peoples of the Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs have known the medicinal properties of these beans in treating the intestines and stomach since ancient times.
It is prepared as a hot or cold drink by adding water, honey, and spices. The Spanish colonisers transported the cocoa crop to Europe, and at that time, it gained a high status because of its health benefits. The United Kingdom made the first chocolate bar in the nineteenth century, and its consumption increased dramatically in the 20th century.
Dark Chocolate Benefits
Dark chocolate also includes caffeine, the amount of which rises with the chocolate’s cocoa content. The most significant advantages of this kind of chocolate are discussed in the sections that follow. Here, we go over the advantages of eating dark chocolate:
1. Reduces cholesterol levels
The efficacy of dark chocolate in reducing blood cholesterol levels has been the subject of conflicting studies. As cocoa powder reduces levels of harmful oxidised cholesterol in men, whose oxidation may cause damage to body tissues such as the lining of arteries, it also contributes to increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in people with high cholesterol.
These benefits may be due to cocoa containing many antioxidants that enter the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins from oxidation. On the other hand, other studies have not been able to prove these benefits, as a review of ten studies involving 320 people indicated that adding this type of chocolate to the diet for 2 to 12 weeks did not reduce good cholesterol levels and triglycerides.
Dark chocolate can be eaten as part of the system. A healthy diet is to obtain this benefit. Nutritionists also advise choosing types with a high concentration of cocoa, which have undergone fewer manufacturing processes, such as organic types.
2. Reduces depression
Based on the observation, another study discovered that dark chocolate eaters were 70% less likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who consumed other varieties of chocolate. However, further studies still need to confirm that eating this food may treat depression.
Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Substantial evidence supports that cocoa and chocolate extracts may be used as natural sources to promote brain health and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases related to ageing, such as Alzheimer’s.
3. Reduces heart disease threat
It has been shown that middle-aged people and adults who eat 100 grams of chocolate daily have lower risk rates. Dark chocolate contains substances that are very effective at preventing LDL oxidation. This should reduce the amount of cholesterol in the arteries over time, lowering the risk of heart disease. A study of 470 older adults found that cocoa reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 50 per cent.
4. Improves blood sugar levels and insulin functions
Eating healthy amounts of dark chocolate can improve glucose metabolism in the body, and the flavonoids in dark chocolate could reduce stress. Oxidative stress causes insulin resistance, which is marked as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
A preliminary study conducted in 2018 showed that eating 48 grams of dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa may help reduce fasting glucose levels and insulin resistance. It is worth Noting that these benefits still need more studies to confirm them.
5. Boosts immunity
Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants such as flavonoids, which can help boost the body’s immunity.
6. The possibility of reducing cancer risks
Nutritionists believe that the two compounds quercetin and epicatechin are responsible for the anti-cancer properties in chocolate. Some reports indicated that eating chocolate may reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer—still, the results of studies needed to be more consistent about this effect.
The American Hypertension Society published 2009 a study showing that people who ate more chocolate rich in flavonoids or antioxidants had a lower risk of cancer than others.
However, most of these studies were conducted on animals, as the quantities of chocolate needed to achieve this benefit are much greater than the recommended daily amounts.
7. Maintains the health of the digestive system
It was found that consuming cocoa increases the levels of beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Researchers found that the levels of lactobacillus bifidobacterium in the intestine were higher in those who drank cocoa and milk for four weeks.
These types of bacteria help enhance the intestine’s anti-inflammatory properties, which contributes to improving its health. They also found that cocoa components reduce the growth of Clostridium histolytica bacteria in the intestines of people with inflammatory bowel disease.
8. Improves athletic performance
Nutritionists believe that this is because they contain flavonols and epicatechin. These compounds promote the production of nitrogen monoxide, which improves blood circulation and reduces the oxygen athletes need during moderate-intensity exercise. An observational study published in the Journal of the Association found International Sports Nutrition in 2015 that eating a little dark chocolate may enhance oxygen availability during exercise.
9. Improves your Mood
Among the benefits of dark chocolate is its ability to significantly reduce stress hormones, and its role in improving mood and treating depression has also been proven.
10. The possibility of helping in weight loss
Cocoa contains a flavonol compound called (Oligomeric PCs), which has been associated with weight reduction in mice. Still, its effect has yet to be studied in humans. Researchers have noted in a study at the University of California in 2012 that people who eat dark chocolate have lower body mass index than those who do not consume any; however, it is not proven that it is the cause.
As the participants in the study only ate small amounts of chocolate, there is no evidence to prove that eating it helps to lose weight, and nutritionists recommend eating it in moderation.
11. Reduces the risk of stroke
A comprehensive analysis published in the Journal of Neurology in 2012 included 37,000 men between the ages of 45 and 79 by tracking their diet for ten years. Men who ate more chocolate or about a cup of it per week had a 17% lower stroke risk of those who ate less, and the researchers preferred dark chocolate over other types.
12. Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Dark chocolate contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help in reducing inflammation in the body. Chocolate containing a concentration of 84% of cocoa daily for eight weeks reduced vital indicators of inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, these benefits still need more studies to determine the appropriate amounts of chocolate to achieve this effect.
13. Enhances memory strength
The flavonols available in dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and other foods can be beneficial for brain functions, and these compounds are distinguished by their anti-inflammatory and oxidative properties. A clinical trial conducted in 2011 at the University of Reading, Malaysia, indicated that memory and response time are better compared to eating white chocolate two hours after eating dark chocolate. However, other studies have not shown that it is beneficial for that.
14. Improves blood flow to control high blood pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate work to encourage the production of nitric oxide by the lining of the arteries. One of its jobs is to tell the arteries to relax, which lowers blood pressure by lowering blood pressure resistance.
In addition to their flavonol content, which stimulates the endothelium in the arteries to release nitrogen monoxide, which improves blood flow and lowers anxiety and stress, dark chocolate contains phenols that lower blood pressure.
A study from Harvard University that examined the findings of 24 trials with 1106 participants was published. It was discovered that all participants’ blood pressure decreased when eating dark chocolate with 50 to 70% cocoa content, especially those with high blood pressure.
15. Highly nutritious
In addition to having a high cocoa content, premium dark chocolate also has a good amount of soluble fibre and is rich in minerals. A 100-gramme piece of dark chocolate, for instance, can contain between 70 and 85 per cent of the minerals iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and others.
16. Protects your skin from the sun
Dark chocolate compounds can also benefit your skin, as flavonols protect it from sun damage. Flavonol can increase skin density and hydration. And if you’re planning a beach vacation, consider eating dark chocolate in the weeks and months ahead.
17. Improves Brain Function
The good news is by no means over. Your brain’s performance may also be enhanced by dark chocolate. In one study, flavanol-rich cocoa consumption for five days increased blood flow to the brain in healthy participants.
Why do nutritionists support chocolate?
In terms of nutrition, chocolate contains more than just cocoa. But, in addition to several minerals, antioxidants, and calories, it also contains lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and caffeine.
It goes without saying that there are numerous health advantages of eating chocolate, particularly in relation to cardiovascular illnesses. You should take into account the questioned components of chocolate even though the possible health benefits of some compounds in chocolate are obvious.
Chocolate is one of the high-energy foods that, if consumed in excess, can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of diseases associated with obesity. In many instances, it could be a source of saturated fats and cholesterol, especially considering that these saturated fats could come from the fact that it is made with milk. Contrarily, if the permitted portion of chocolate is adjusted according to the health of those who will consume it, it can be a part of a healthy diet.
What is the dark side of dark chocolate?
After learning the truth about chocolate’s health advantages, we provide you with a list of drawbacks related to excessive consumption. Due to its high fat and sugar content, chocolate has a high-calorie content and may contribute to weight gain. Sugar is a component of dark chocolate, which could increase your risk of tooth decay. Due to the histamine and phenylalanine included in cocoa seeds, some people may experience more migraine symptoms after consuming chocolate.
Chocolate is made by harvesting cocoa seeds, fermenting them, drying them, and roasting and grinding them. Then, convert them into syrup, add sweeteners, and place them in moulds until they become solid. The manufacturing steps differ according to the type of chocolate.
The powdered milk and sugar are added to the syrup to prepare milk chocolate, in which the cocoa concentration reaches approximately 10%. In contrast, dark chocolate is ready without adding milk, and the cocoa concentration ranges between 35% and 85%.
The concentration determines the quantities of nutritional flavonoids, which are considered antioxidants beneficial to the body. The dark types are characterised by containing the highest levels of these compounds that cocoa loses whenever it undergoes more manufacturing processes.
You should note that sometimes cocoa bases are added to improve the taste of chocolate, which leads to a decrease in its flavonol content.
How to store dark chocolate?
It is preferable to keep dark chocolate in tightly closed containers in a dry and cool place where the appropriate storage temperature ranges between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. Experts also advise you not to store chocolate in the refrigerator to avoid the formation of a white layer on its surface due to moisture.
It is worth noting that this only affects its taste. It affects its shape, and preserving chocolate in appropriate conditions can contribute to maintaining it for two years.
Types of Chocolate
One of the basic products made from the cocoa tree is chocolate, which can also include a variety of other ingredients like milk and sugar. Many people like it, whether adults or children, and it has several uses and is used to manufacture many types of sweets. European countries export a large number of kinds of chocolate, and this is to suit the different tastes of all people who always want to eat all types of chocolate.
Here are the various types of chocolate:
It is made by combining cocoa with small amounts of sugar, fat, and milk to create pure or dark chocolate, although the cocoa content cannot be less than 35% of the final product. It is one of the priciest kinds of chocolate.
It is made by adding cocoa powder to liquid, condensed or dry milk. In games, these chocolate products contain about 20% cocoa, which is used as a maximum. This type of chocolate is available in two forms: solid milk chocolate And liquid milk chocolate.
This type of chocolate is unique and distinguished by milk, butter, cocoa and sugar components.
Unsweetened chocolate that is used in baking or cooking. This type of chocolate is made by adding a particular kind of fat to the ground roasted cocoa seeds, as well as sugar, and this type of chocolate is distinguished by its deep and distinctive taste. Innovative cooks use it in making all sweets, Biscuits, cakes and other things with a distinct flavour.
This chocolate is made by mixing an amount of sugar equal to half the amount of ground cocoa. This chocolate is often used in cooking and placed on many biscuits.
This chocolate emulsion combines cocoa powder with sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter. Compared to semi-sweet chocolate, this variety of chocolate contains significantly less sugar and yeast. Nonetheless, baking makes this sort of chocolate extremely comparable to semi-sweet chocolate.
The sweetness of chocolate and the amount of cocoa have an opposite relationship. The percentage of chocolate sweetness decreases as the percentage of chocolate increases.
This chocolate combines tropical and vegetable fats, and in most cases, these fats are included and used to substitute cocoa butter, which is also used as a coating for desserts.
This type of chocolate has not been processed, mixed with any kind of ingredients, and has not been heated. This chocolate sells in all developing countries and many other countries. This chocolate type is often famous for its outstanding and enormous health benefits.
Dark Chocolate Nutritional Values
|Dark Chocolate Components||Cocoa Concentration|
|Water||0.97 ml||1.25 ml||0.97 ml|
|Calories||546 kcals||579 kcals||598 kcals|
|Protein||4.88 g||6.12 g||7.79 g|
|Fat||31.28 g||38.31 g||42.63 g|
|Carbohydrates||61.17 g||52.42 g||45.90 g|
|Fiber||7 g||8 g||10.9 g|
|Sugar||47.90 g||36.71 g||23.99 g|
|Caffeine||43 ml||86 ml||80 ml|
While enjoying your dark chocolate, you should know how much you consume daily. Despite the benefits of dark chocolate, you should pay attention not to overdo it because it contains many calories. So, be sure to choose suitable types with high levels of cocoa and eat them wisely.
If you liked reading this article, you might like to know more about White Chocolate and Chocolate Manufacturing Process.
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