Chocolates are prepared from cocoa beans that are loaded with natural antioxidants and trace minerals. Depending upon the proportion used, there are different types of chocolates, of which dark chocolates are considered the best as they contain the highest percentage of cocoa solids.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) maintains that dark chocolates, also known as plain or black chocolates, should contain 35% or more chocolate liquor (contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter) and less than 12% milk solids.
They tend to have a more prominent flavor and bitter aftertaste. European dark chocolates usually have a higher proportion of cocoa products as compared to the ones produced in the US.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Being rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate is considered healthy for your heart as it protects against cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it reduces the chances of developing certain types of cancers, too.
The flavonoids present in dark chocolate are useful for lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure as it is packed with like procyanidins, prostacyclins, and polyphenols. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of blood clotting and narrowing of arteries.
In addition, when taken in moderation, dark chocolate improves insulin resistance and sensitivity. Interestingly, it makes you feel full and helps reduce cravings for sugary, salty, as well as fatty foods.
Therefore, consuming dark chocolates in a smart way can help you lose weight. Plus, it relieves aches and pains as it releases endorphins in the brain.
Needless to say, eating dark chocolate also improves general alertness and makes you feel good as it promotes increased blood flow to key areas of the brain.
Cocoa beans have powerful neurotransmitters such as serotonin and tryptophan that stabilize your mood. Besides, dark chocolate contains a cannabinoid called anandamide that creates feelings of comfort and happiness.
Basically, bioflavonoid antioxidants eliminate free radical, neutralize toxins, and prevent cell damage. Moreover, it contains magnesium, which is good for neurological health.
Dark chocolate should not be over processed, though, as it tends to lower its flavanols. It is believed that cocoa flavanols can protect against mental decline and reduce the liklihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s a video giving information on the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Precautions and Side Effects
Like milk chocolates, dark chocolates, too, should not be consumed in excess. Excessive consumption of dark chocolates can cause problems like headache, indigestion, heartburn, lethargy, and other symptoms similar to that of high caffeine intake.
Besides, it may result in rapid weight gain due to high amount of calories in cocoa butter and other ingredients that are added in the chocolate.
Consequently, its fat and calorie content can counteract its various health benefits. A single serving, that is, 37 g of dark chocolate is likely to have 170 calories.
Moreover, you should avoid overindulgence in this treat as it can prove to be mildly addictive due to its psychoactive compounds (theobromine, in particular) that work as stimulants. Theobromine, though is also associated with benefits like suppressing cough and hardening the tooth enamel.
Thus, you can derive its nutritional benefits by having one to one and a half ounces of dark chocolate a few times in a week.
Plus, make sure you opt for the one that does not contain nougat, caramel, nuts, and other fillings and flavorings. The daily dietary recommendation for the intake of dark chocolate has not been determined so far.