Medical &Health

Dark Chocolate: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects

From babies to older people, it is hard to find anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. From chocolate bars to chocolate cakes, chocolate milkshakes, chocolate brownies, chocolate pastries, everything is mouthwatering. Chocolates have different varieties. Among them, the ‘Dark Chocolate’ satisfies not only the taste buds but also the soul. The habit of eating Dark chocolate provides a bunch of benefits to the mind and body. Let’s find out the health benefits and nutritional value of dark chocolate.

What is dark chocolate? How is it different from regular chocolates?

The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa beans, which are rich in antioxidants and it is great for our body. Usually, the cocoa has a bitter taste, and Fat or sugar are usually added to remove the bitter taste of chocolate. But, in this process, the quality of chocolate is lost. So, to get the benefits of chocolate, you need to eat at least 70% or more of the cocoa in the chocolate.

Dark chocolate is one of the food ingredients full of antioxidants. It is basically a form of chocolate that contains cocoa butter and solid cocoa. Unlike regular chocolate, it doesn’t have any milk or butter. Usually, dark chocolate contains 50-90% of cocoa solids, sugar, and cocoa butter. However, the amount of butter is extremely low.

Usually, dark chocolates are distinguished by the availability of the percentage of cocoa solids in the bar. Normally most common types of dark chocolates are bittersweet, semi-sweet, and sweet.

Although the best quality dark chocolates should contain at least 70% of solid cocoa, the amount of cocoa in commercial dark chocolate may start from 30%. Usually, commercially produced dark chocolates contain 30-80% or higher for extremely dark or bitter bars.

The bitterness depends on the cocoa percentage. That is why the chocolate brands put the percentage of the dark on the level so that buyers can buy according to their needs.

How is dark chocolate produced?

Solid cocoa and cocoa butter are the main ingredients of dark chocolates. However, dark chocolate containing 100% cocoa will have an extremely bitter taste and might not be edible. Hence, to make it edible, producers add milk ingredients and sugars to reduce the bitterness. Furthermore, chocolate liquor and cocoa powder are also added. But the percentage of cocoa remains higher than other types of regular chocolate.

Benefits of dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in active organic ingredients, which act as antioxidants. These ingredients are polyphenols, flavonols, etc. A study suggests that dark chocolate contains more antioxidant content than many fruits. While antioxidants prevent cell damage it also works on cancer prevention. Moreover, dark chocolates have other health benefits too.

Improves Heart health

The antioxidant ingredients available in dark chocolate can increase good cholesterol levels and lower the levels of bad cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. So, taking dark chocolate daily can reduce the chances of any coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that dark chocolate is more beneficial than milk chocolate. The study also found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from heart problems by 50% over 15 years.

Reduces depression

Depression can hamper our body as well as the mind and various deadly diseases nest in the body. Eating dark chocolates regularly can fight depression. The antioxidant-rich ingredients in dark chocolate regulate blood flow to the brain. As a result, a type of hormone is released, which helps to keep the mind fresh. Also, other nutrients in dark chocolate help to increase mental strength by storing energy in the body.

Balances the cholesterol

If the cholesterol amount in the body increases, many problems may arise. The first problem that occurs after an increase in cholesterol is heart disease. Dark chocolate is one of the most important elements to lowering the cholesterol level in the body, hence it protects the heart against any diseases.

Studies have shown that the antioxidant ingredients and polyphenols in cocoa powder help the body reduce bad cholesterol levels and produce good cholesterol. As a result, the level of cholesterol in the body remains under control, and the problem of raising cholesterol does not occur. So, all the patients who are suffering from cholesterol-related problems should take some amount of dark chocolate daily.

Source of antioxidants

As we already know, dark chocolate is one of the most important sources of antioxidants. The flavonols in dark chocolate have a high amount of antioxidants. Which helps us improve heart health, fight deadly diseases like cancer and increase brain function.

Improve brain function

The flavonols in dark chocolate can improve a person’s mood. It can also improve brain health in adults. Dark chocolate also helps to improve the nervous system of the health, so the elderly can be given dark chocolate daily to improve their health if they have a mild mental disorder.

Controls blood pressure

Dark chocolate stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the body, which in turn increases blood flow and eliminates blood pressure problems. The ingredients in cocoa help the body to reduce bad cholesterol and produce good cholesterol.

Thus, the blood pressure remains under control. So, for those who are suffering from low or high blood pressure, dark chocolate is one of the special ingredients, which will help to control blood pressure and regulate the blood flow in the body.

Side Effects of dark chocolate

Dark chocolate can have some side effects if it is overused. Because dark chocolate is rich in cocoa, it contains high levels of caffeine. So, excessive intake can lead to anxiety.

The caffeine in dark chocolates can create problems in heartbeats in sensitive people. So, people with such problems should avoid excessive dark chocolates.

The caffeine contained in dark chocolate can cause a number of problems in the body. This can lead to problems like diarrhea, glaucoma, hypertension, stomach problems, osteoporosis. So, if you face such a problem, a doctor’s consultation is necessary before taking dark chocolates.

How much Dark Chocolate can you eat every day?

Although dark chocolates are good for the body, excessive eating may lead to health problems. Hence, experts recommend taking 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g of dark chocolates every day. But before buying dark chocolate, keep in mind that there are different types of dark chocolate. And you should buy according to the ingredients you need.

Source: United Nations of Bangladesh