Chocolate & Health

Is Chocolate good for you?

Yes! The health benefits of chocolate are numerous, especially when we talk about chocolate in its purest form – as close to the bean as possible. If you’re hoping to hear that Milky Way chocolate is good for you, we’re afraid you’ll be disappointed.

The key to finding good chocolate for you is to choose one with a high cocoa content. The higher the cocoa content, the less room there is for sugar, lecithin, vanilla, milk, and other ingredients that make chocolate more like candy.

So, what are the amazing health benefits of chocolate? Primarily, chocolate contains high antioxidants. Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals, harmful molecules that cause aging and disease. They bond to free radicals and remove them from your body through digestion and other means.

Diets rich in antioxidants have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attacks, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, arthritis, asthma, and more.

People often say that red wine, green tea, pomegranate, and blueberries contain the most antioxidants. Well, believe it or not, dark chocolate belongs to that category. In fact, dark chocolate – in its purest form – is the champion of antioxidants. Scientists published a chart of antioxidant foods measured in ORACs (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Units). For every 100 grams, dark chocolate has 13,120 ORACs, while blueberries have only 2,400.

So, chocolate with high cocoa content has the potential to:

  • Prolong life
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer
  • Prevent early aging caused by pollution and radiation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Induce calmness and promote feelings of happiness
  • Recent research even suggests that chocolate may have benefits in treating stroke.

Therefore, it stands to reason that if chocolate is full of antioxidants, it is actually good for you.

However, many people still avoid eating chocolate because it contains fat, sugar, and caffeine. To understand more about the effects of these ingredients on our bodies and to comprehend chocolate’s great potential for health, here is some basic information about chocolate that will be good for us to know.

Here are the main chemical elements contained in chocolate:

  1. Stearic acid and palmitic acid
  2. Oleic acid and linoleic acid
  3. Theobromine
  4. Polyphenol
  5. Phenylethylamine
  6. Catechin

Now, the ultimate question is: how do these elements contribute to our body and health?

The Positive Elements of Chocolate:

Based on the composition, it shows that chocolate contains polyphenol. The beneficial thing about polyphenol is that this element acts as a great antioxidant. One reason why eating dark chocolate in moderation can be good for health is that several medical studies show that dark (in its purest form) chocolate has a higher antioxidant level than green tea and red wine. Antioxidants are good for cancer prevention, reducing the risk of heart disease, and protecting cells and body chemicals against damaging free radicals.

So, how can polyphenol work as an antioxidant?

As mentioned before, chocolate contains polyphenol, and dark chocolate in its purest form contains even higher levels of polyphenol. This phenol compound can reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing oxidation and deposition of fatty compounds in the blood vessels and breaking down low-density lipoprotein lipid (bad fat). This phenol is also mostly found in red wine, which is already popular as a good drink for heart health.

Chocolate also has the ability to slow down the oxidation of cholesterol LDL (bad cholesterol) and improve immune function, thus preventing the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.

Another interesting epidemiological study is research conducted by Harvard University students who enrolled between 1916-1950. By using a food frequency questionnaire, they collected information about the eating habits of candy or chocolate of Harvard University students. By controlling their smoking and eating habits and their physical activity, it was found that those who liked to eat sweets or chocolates lived one year longer than those who were not eating. It was concluded that apparently, the contained phenol antioxidants in chocolate are the reason why they can live longer.

What about the fat in chocolate?

It is true that most of chocolate’s components are fat, especially saturated fat. However, some research shows that the combination effect given by all kinds of fat, which is contained in the base ingredients of chocolate, actually has a neutral effect on one’s lipid profile.

Fat in chocolate, often called cocoa butter, is mostly composed of saturated fat (60%), especially stearic. But chocolate fat is a vegetable fat that does not contain cholesterol at all. The high content of stearic inside chocolate is supposedly the reason why chocolate’s fat is not as bad as animal fat. Furthermore, based on the research, it has long been known that stearic acid is a neutral fat that will not trigger blood cholesterol. Why? It is because stearic is actually digested slowly and also absorbed less by our body. One-third of the fat found in chocolate is oleic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid. This oleic acid is also predominantly found in olive oil. An epidemiological study on the Mediterranean population, which consumed a lot of oleic acid from olive oil, has also shown the positive oleic effect for heart health.

What about the sugar?

Well, sugar is not good. There’s nothing good about it, really. But keep in mind that dark chocolate with high cacao content might have 10 to 15 grams of sugar, which is still less than the 22 grams in a glass of orange juice, the 29 grams in your cup of yogurt, and the 34 grams in a glass of cranberry juice, all of which may be considered “good” for you. So keep your eye on the labels, too.

What about the caffeine in chocolate?

An average chocolate bar contains about 27 mg, about half of what you would find in a cola and a third of what you would find in a cup of coffee. Besides, studies have shown that having some, but less than 200 mg of caffeine a day, might actually be good for you.

Another interesting element inside chocolate is its alkaloid component called theobromine. This component is included in the methylxanthine group, such as caffeine. However, the effect is very different between theobromine and caffeine. Theobromine has mild characteristics and gives a slow stimulant effect. It is different from caffeine, which has a strong characteristic and can give a very fast stimulant effect. Theobromine is a stimulant that is said to make a lasting improvement in mood. Its presence is one of the causes of chocolate’s mood-elevating effect. It helps to release happy hormones.

After learning the basic knowledge of chocolate, you may realize that there are actually no bad reasons why we should not eat chocolate. The bottom line is that indulging in a proper amount of dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth while treating your body to the many health benefits of chocolate. So next time you are craving dessert, reach for the dark chocolate, and hold the guilt.

In the end, chocolate is still chocolate. Our mouth-watering soulmate. It is so delicious and tempting.

Who can resist it! Yumm…

What do you think?
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related news