Chocolate is one of our most loved and go-to comfort foods. The sweet delicious, creaminess can drive all our worries away! But is consuming chocolate good for your health? In this article, we break down the myths and explore the benefits of our favorite food – chocolate.
Can Chocolate be Good for You?
Chocolate is made from cacao seeds that a high minerals and nutrients. However, only dark chocolates made of 70% to 85% cacao possess all the nutritional goodness of the seeds.
The nutritional breakdown of 100g dark chocolate with 70% to 80% cacao is as follows:
|Dietary fiber||11 g|
Varieties of chocolates like milk or white chocolate may not be as healthy as dark chocolate. They are highly processed and loaded with saturated fat, so it is advised to not consume them.
How can Chocolate Benefit Your Heart?
Dark chocolate, for a long time, has been considered to have amazing health benefits. It is especially good for people with various heart diseases. The different ways of consuming dark chocolate can benefit your heart, and these are as follows:
- Rich in antioxidants. Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants work to neutralize the free radicals in our body that harm the cells and cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress makes our body age faster and leads to the onset of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. Consuming dark chocolate can reduce the damage caused by it.
- Contains flavonols. Flavonol is another compound that possesses a variety of health benefits and plays a crucial role in maintaining our heart health. Flavonols stimulate the endothelium of the arteries to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps the artery muscles to relax and lowers the pressure on the heart.
- Reduces cholesterol. Consuming chocolate also helps decrease the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), regarded as the bad cholesterol. The reduction in cholesterol levels improves the blood circulation in the body and decreases the damage to the arteries.
- Lowers risk of stroke. In a study by Canadian scientists, people who ate chocolate once a day were 22% less likely to suffer from a stroke. This may be due to the oxidative effects of chocolate .
- Improves mood. Chocolate acts as comfort food for most of us because chocolate interacts and releases serotonin and dopamine, the hormones responsible for mood regulation.
- Reduces stress. Eating chocolate also releases oxytocin that counteracts the cortisol present in the body and lowers stress levels. Reduced stress levels, in turn, result in low blood pressure and protect your heart from damage.
- Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a response by the immune system to any foreign particle or irritant. It is the natural way of protecting us from any harmful bacteria. However, chronic inflammation can damage the body cells and tissues. Chocolate is known to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the inflammation and irritation in the body.
- Controls diabetes. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to maintain blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance may occur. Studies show that dark chocolate may help reduce insulin resistance in the body and decrease glucose levels.
What are Some Myths about Chocolate?
Dark chocolate has several benefits, but over the years, certain myths have developed around its consumption. Some of them are as follows:
● Myth 1. Chocolate has a high amount of caffeine
Fact. A standard 40g bar of chocolate contains a maximum of 6 mg of caffeine. This amount of caffeine is equivalent to the caffeine present in a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
● Myth 2. Consuming chocolate can raise your cholesterol levels
Fact. Chocolate has a high amount of fat and is a calorie-dense food. However, the fat present in chocolate is in the form of stearic acid. Stearic acid helps increase good cholesterol (HDL) and does not raise bad cholesterol (LDL).
● Myth 3. Consuming chocolate can cause cavities in teeth
Fact: The fermentation of sugar by the bacteria present in your mouth causes cavities and tooth decays. Thus, any food item containing sugar can cause cavities. The key to preventing cavities is to brush properly after consuming chocolate or any other sugary item.
● Myth 4. Chocolate has zero nutritional value
Fact: Chocolate has a high nutritional value as it consists of fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It also has flavonols and antioxidants that have various health benefits.
What are the Things to Consider before Consuming Chocolate?
Even though dark chocolate has several advantages, few points need to be considered before indulging in it. They are as follows:
● Sugar content. Dark chocolate has a good amount of sugar present in it. Hence, it may pose a risk to people having diabetes. Check the label for sugar content and consume accordingly.
● Nutritional value. Some chocolate manufacturers use processing methods that lower the nutritional value of the chocolate. It is necessary to consume quality dark chocolate with 70% to 80% cacao to enjoy its health benefits.
● Migraines. Dark chocolate may cause headaches and migraines in a few individuals if consumed above a certain quantity.
● Kidney stones. Too much dark chocolate may also cause kidney stones in your body.
We can say that dark chocolate, has a wide range of benefits. Of course, it is dense in calories so it needs to be consumed in moderation. Also be aware that a lot of the chocolate on the market is not healthy. Choose quality stuff — dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How much chocolate can I eat every day?
You can eat about 30 to 60 g of dark chocolate each day.
- Can I eat chocolate while I am on a diet?
Chocolate is high in fat and has a good amount of calories. Hence, eat only a small serving per day if you are dieting.
- Is milk chocolate good for the heart too?
Milk chocolate has almost double the amount of sugar as dark chocolate. Thus, eating milk chocolate can be more risky than beneficial for the heart.