Dark Chocolate: Definition, Health Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Dark-Chocolate

According to The Health Site dark chocolate is a yummy treat loved by many for its rich flavor and special qualities. It’s not just a sweet snack, it’s also good for you. So in this article we’ll explore the world of dark chocolate learning about the benefits where it comes from, how it’s made, why it’s good for your health and the joy it brings to chocolate fans around the globe.

What is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate made with cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. When it doesn’t have added sweetener, it’s called bitter chocolate or unsweetened chocolate. Like other types of chocolate, dark chocolate is used to make chocolate bars or as a coating for candies.

Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

When compared to other types of chocolate, it stands out. According to Peart, it has less added sugar and fat than milk or white chocolate, and it’s rich in beneficial antioxidants called flavonoids. Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate share common ingredients like cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa solids. However, they differ in the percentage of cocoa solids they contain. It typically contains between 50% and 90% cocoa solids, says peart. Meanwhile milk chocolate usually has between 10% and 50%. The percentage of cocoa solids in it affects its benefits. The higher percentage of cocoa solids, the more flavonoids and the less sugar. Therefore, if you choose 75% or 80% it, it will have less added sugar compared to 50%.

What are the Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate?

Eating dark chocolate with high cocoa content in moderation can deliver antioxidants and minerals and may help protect you from heart disease. But it may also contain high amounts of sugar and calories. Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree it’s one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. Studies show that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease. Here are 7 benefits of dark chocolate or cocoa that are supported by science.

 Nutrients Value of Dark Chocolate:

If you buy the quality of it with a high cocoa content then it’s quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70 – 85 % cocoa contains.

  • 11 gram of fiber
  • 66% of the DV for iron
  • 57% of the DV for magnesium
  • 196% of the DV for copper
  • 85% of the DV for manganese
  • Carbohydrates 45.9g
  • Protein 7.79g
  • Calcium 73g
  • Sugar 24g
  • Zinc 3.31g
  • Caffeine 80mg

In addition it has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. Of course 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. These nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar. For this reason dark it is best consumed in moderation. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and it is also good. The fats consist mostly of oleic acid (a heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil), stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Dark chocolate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but it’s unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared with coffee.

Powerful Source of Antioxidants:

It is like a superhero because it’s full of natural stuff that helps sour bodies. These include polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. Some studies suggest that the polyphenols in it when eaten with other protein rich foods like almonds, walnuts, cocoa and pistachios might help lower a kind of cholesterol that’s not good for us. Another study found that cocoa and it had more good stuff like antioxidants and polyphenols than some fruits we usually think are super healthy, like blueberries and acai berries so eating it might be good for us but we need more research to be sure.

May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure:

The flavonoids in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries to produce nitric oxide (NO). One of the functions of (NO) is to send signals to the arteries to relax which lower the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduce blood pressure. Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure though the effects are usually mild. However, one study in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure showed no effect so take this with a grain of salt. It is possible that people who are already receiving treatment for high blood pressure may not get any additional benefits from adding cocoa flavanols to their diet. Given the great variation between studies on this subject it’s clear that more research is needed.

Raises HDL and Protects LDL from Oxidation:

It can make your heart healthier by improving some important things that can cause heart problems. It might help lower the cholesterol in your body. In a small study people who eat it with something called lycopene saw a new drop in their total cholesterol, the bad kind of cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. Some types of (LDL) can cause damage if they react with free radicals in your body, a bit like rusting. It has a good thing in it that stops this damage which is great for your heart. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, has strong antioxidants that protect your heart by preventing damage. It can also help your body use insulin better which is good because insulin problems can lead to heart and diabetes issues. But be careful it has sugar which isn’t as good for your heart.

May Reduce Heart Disease Risk:

Eating it might help protect your heart by stopping bad things (LDL) from getting damaged. This means less bad cholesterol may build up in your arteries making the chance of heart disease lower. Studies have found that over time having cholesterol with something called flavonoids can bring down blood pressure and make your heart healthier. One study said eating chocolate three times a week could lower the risk of heart problems by 9%. Eating chocolate more often didn’t show much extra benefits and having more than 100 grams per week didn’t seem to help. Another study found that eating almonds with or without it improved the bad cholesterol levels. While these findings are promising we still need more proof to be sure if it’s the chocolate that’s really reducing the risk. But because we know how it works in the body (lowering blood pressure and protecting LDL) it makes sense that eating it regularly might make your heart healthier.

May Protect your Skin From the Sun:

The bioactive compounds in the dark chocolate may also be great for your skin. The flavanols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. The minimal erythemal dose (MED) is the minimum amount of (UVB) rays required to cause redness in the skin 24 hours after exposure. Studies have shown that (MED) can increase and even double after consuming high-flavanol it or cocoa for 12 weeks. The result is that your skin has better protection from the sun. If you’re planning a beach vacation, consider enjoying some extra dark chocolate in the prior weeks and months. But check with your doctor or dermatologist before forgoing your normal skin care routine in favor of more it. And remember that chocolate can’t replace sunscreen and other forms of sun protection.

Could Improve Brain Function:

The good news isn’t over yet. It may also improve the function of your brain. Studies show that eating high flavanol cocoa can improve blood flow to the brain in young adults. This may explain why eating cocoa daily appears to improve attention, verbal learning, and memory. Cocoa flavonoids may also help maintain cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment and reduce the chance of progressing to dementia. But more research is needed. Additionally cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine which may be a key reason why it can improve brain function in the short term.

How to Use Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate comes in various forms like liquid, paste, or blocks. You can use dark chocolate:

  • As a flavoring ingredient
  • As a sweetener
  • As a thickener
  • To black chocolate bars
  • To make solid candies

However, if you plan to consume it in large amounts, it’s advisable to consult a qualified doctor first. Don’t stop or substitute ongoing medical treatments with ayurvedic or herbal preparations of dark chocolate without consulting an ayurvedic physician. They can advise you on the appropriate form and dosage based on your health condition.

What are the Side Effects of Dark Chocolate?

Though there are many advantages to dark chocolate. It may also cause caffeine-related side effects. However, below are a few dark chocolate side effects:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Nervousness
  • Increased urination
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Skin allergies
  • Constipation
  • Migraine or headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach rumbling
  • Intestinal discomfort

You must consult your doctor to get the proper treatment if you encounter such side effects.

How Much to Eat?

Dark chocolate manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the flavanol content of their products. This makes it hard to determine how much dark chocolate one should eat to get its health benefits. Studies mentioned usually used 20-30 grams of dark chocolate per day. Dark chocolate with higher cacao percentages usually has less sugar but more fat. More cacao also means more flavanols, so it’s best to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao solids or more.

Precautions to Take with Dark Chocolate:

Eating dark chocolate in small amounts is generally safe, but consuming it in larger quantities can be harmful. Here are some precautions to consider:

  • If you experience headaches, it’s best to avoid dark chocolate as it may trigger migraines in sensitive individuals.
  • Diabetic patients should steer clear of dark chocolate as it can raise blood sugar levels and interfere with blood sugar control.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid dark chocolate due to its caffeine content which may affect fetal growth.
  • Individuals with anxiety disorders should avoid eating it, as it may worsen your condition.
  • If you experience stomach discomfort, acid reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome, it’s advisable to avoid consuming dark chocolate.
  • When giving it to small children and the elderly, caution is necessary, as they may develop chocolate allergies.

Interactions with Other Drugs:

It may interfere with certain drugs or medicines, leading to drug interactions. Here are some precautions to take:

  • Avoid using it with aspirin.
  • Refrain from consuming it along with anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners).
  • Do not have it with antiplatelet drugs, which are used to prevent blood clots.
  • Avoid taking it with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid eating it with any medications, and if any complications arise, consult with your doctor.

FAQs:

Can I eat dark chocolate daily?

So, while enjoying a bit of it can be a delightful treat, it’s crucial to consume it in moderation and adhere to the recommended daily intake of 30-60 grams.

Does chocolate expire?

Chocolate doesn’t spoil like perishable foods, but its taste, texture, and appearance can damage over time due to factors like sugar bloom or fat bloom. While these changes don’t make the chocolate unsafe to eat, they might impact its overall quality and enjoyment.

Dark chocolate have side effects?

What are the side effects of eating it? The dark chocolate side effects may be associated with caffeine. It may cause sleeplessness, nervousness, increased urination, fast heartbeat, skin allergies, migraine, and headache, nausea and stomach problems like gas and constipation.

Is it safe to eat 100% dark chocolate?

Absolutely eating 100% chocolate on its own gives you the purest, rawest form of the chocolate.

Is dark chocolate good for periods?

It is rich in magnesium which helps relax the muscle and ease uterine contractions and pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. In addition it contains potassium that prevents the muscles from retaining water and being bloated thus helping ease cramps.

Is dark chocolate good for skin?

It is packed with antioxidants that help combat free radicals, preventing oxidative stress and contributing to a youthful and radiant complexion.

What are the 10 benefits of dark chocolate?

  • Improves heart health
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Boosts cognitive function
  • Protects the skin
  • May help with weight loss
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • May improve mood
  • May help fight cancer
  • Protects the skin
  • May improve the gut health

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