Most of us (especially women) love our chocolate and can’t stand not eating the delicacy when the temptation arises. But conventional wisdom has told us that while chocolate is tasty, it is also fattening and unhealthy.
Fortunately, for those of you who didn’t know, these claims are targeted towards milk chocolate and not dark chocolate. Recent studies and research have found dark chocolate to have many health benefits which can be an excellent excuse to indulge in your secret chocolaty desires. However, this study also points out some possible dangers of eating dark chocolate and why you should control yourself while eating this treat.
Now, to better understand the health benefits and possible dangers of dark chocolate, let’s first understand how this globally popular treat is made.
The Making Of Dark Chocolate:
Most of us only know that chocolate is made from cocoa beans, but did you know that the cocoa trees that produce the cocoa beans were initially found in the Central Americas and have been cultivated around to world these days? Each cocoa tree grows about 20 to 30 cocoa pods every year with only 40 cocoa beans being produced per pod. If you calculate that into understandable figures, that comes out to be five dark chocolate bars being created by a single tree in a whole year.
The cocoa pods are harvested by hand when they mature which are then cut open and dried. The extracted cocoa beans are then covered in a white pulp which is later allowed to ferment in the sun. This fermenting process is what gives your chocolate its taste and flavor with different fermentation processes creating different flavors.
After the cocoa beans are dehydrated, they are cracked open, and the inner coca nibs are then roasted to enrich the flavor further. The roasted nibs are ground into cocoa liquor which is a liquid that is made from 50-60% cocoa butter and is alcohol-free. This cocoa liquor is the core component of the traditional chocolate bar when other elements are added. Some of these added ingredients include sugar, milk, nuts, fruits, and vanilla with different combinations creating different flavors and tastes for your chocolate.
According to the experts, milk chocolate contains 5-7% cocoa while dark chocolate contains 60% or more cocoa with no milk. And you will be surprised to find out that white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa as it is actually made from milk and cocoa butter. Research has shown that like with leafy greens and berries, the darker the color of your chocolate, the greater the concentration of antioxidants and the more health benefits it has. So, this means that eating dark chocolate is better with more health benefits compared to milk chocolate. Studies also state that milk ends up binding to the antioxidants which prevent them from combating free radical damage.
The Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate:
Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate has many benefits which have been used for over three millenniums to records of the early Mayans using cocoa for their healing properties. Here are some of the benefits of dark chocolate:
Dark Chocolate Contains Antioxidants:
Dark chocolate is found to contain polyphenols which are a powerful antioxidant also found in red wine, tea, and berries. Antioxidants protect your body from free radical damage which can damage the skin and organs to cause diseases like cancer or heart disease. Research has also found dark chocolate to have the highest concentration of phenolic antioxidants in any food.
Dark Chocolate Helps Boost Your Mood And Brain Function:
Yes, dark chocolate is now found to improve your visual and cognitive function, according to a study done in the UK. Another benefit of this tasty treat is that it can “significantly increased self-rated calmness and contentedness relative to placebo,” according to a study performed at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. This study had participants drink a dark-chocolate drink mix for over a period of 30 days to find the effects of the drink on the mood.
Dark Chocolate Improves Blood Circulation:
Studies have shown that dark chocolate can help improve vascular function, reduce blood pressure and lower LDL blood cholesterol. A research study at Wageningen University in the Netherlands has also concluded that it’s good for reducing the risk of heart disease as dark chocolate helps reduce arterial rigidity and white blood cell adhesion.
The Possible Dangers Of Dark Chocolate:
Before, we talked about the benefits and reasons you should be eating this delicious treat. But now, let’s take a look at some of the less known dangers of dark chocolate which can cause a negative impact on your health if eating without moderation:
Dark Chocolate Can Increase Kidney Stone Risk:
A component in dark chocolate called oxalates is said to increase the risk of having kidney stones. While this component is found in many animals and plants, overeating dark chocolate can potentially increase the danger and risk of kidney stones.
Dark Chocolate Can Cause Migraines:
While there isn’t conclusive proof of this possible danger, according to some, dark chocolate can cause migraines. However, many migraine sufferers don’t seem to have more migraines after eating dark chocolate. So, if you think that your migraines may be caused by dark chocolate or are someone with a risk of migraines, you should re-evaluate your diet in regards to dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Has Caffeine:
An 8-ounce cup of black coffee is said to contain 145 mg of caffeine (18 mg per ounce), and dark chocolate contains 35 mg per ounce of caffeine. So, if you are trying to watch your caffeine intake or struggle to fall asleep at night, you might want to reconsider dark chocolate as a healthy option.
The Conclusion About Eating Dark Chocolate:
Now that we have taken a look at how dark chocolate is made, its health benefits and possible dangers, let’s bring this topic to a satisfactory conclusion. Like with most sweets, it’s best to control your desire and eat this tasty treat with the required moderation. You should also ensure that you precisely know what you are eating by reading the product label before purchasing.
Not all dark chocolates are made the same way with the same ingredients since some have little to no sugar while others are chock full of the stuff to sweeten the chocolate. Also, keep an eye on the fat content of your favorite brand as this can also affect your health. And lastly, if you are concentred about any of the possible dangers of chocolate like kidney stones, migraines or caffeine, it’s suggested to consult your doctor about the potential risks and dangers.
Overall, the best way to enjoy chocolate is by eating 60% or more cocoa-rich dark chocolate and in moderation. You can try dipping fresh strawberries in melted dark chocolate and freezing them for a healthy and mouth-watering dessert.