Category: Chocolate

The health benefits of Chocolate. Yes there are some!

The Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate

Chocolate is loved the world over and in 2008/09 the world production of cocoa exceeded 3.5 billion tonnes (that’s the equivalent weight of the number of double decker buses it would take to stretch the length of Britain three times).

Whilst the high-sugar content of its white- and milk- counterparts are not to be enjoyed as part of a regular diet, dark chocolate is surprisingly nutritious.

What makes chocolate ‘dark’?

Dark chocolate, also known as black or plain chocolate is made using cocoa butter, instead of milk-based fat like that in milk chocolate, and contains higher quantities of cocoa powder. The minimum quantities of these ingredients for a product to be labelled as ‘dark’ chocolate varies from country to country: in the UK, this is a minimum of 35% cocoa solids and 18% cocoa butter. Not as much as you were expecting? Me neither. The classic Cadbury’s Bourneville bar contains a minimum of 36% cocoa solids. Interestingly, the FDA in the US does not have any standard defining a minimum cocoa content in order for a product to be labelled as ‘dark’ chocolate.

If we are being particular, within the EU ‘chocolate’ is the default name for any chocolate that exceeds this minimum amount: any product that falls below this criteria has to be labelled as ‘chocolate flavoured’, or ‘milk chocolate’ if it contains milk products, rather than chocolate exceeding the standard being labelled as dark. Make sense?

In short: Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content and uses cocoa butter instead of milk fat.

What is the nutritional content of dark chocolate?

A ‘typical’ 100g bar of 70% dark chocolate contains approximately:

  • 11g dietary fibre (approx. 40% RDA)
  • 12mg iron (approx. 67% RDA)
  • 8mg copper (approx. 89% RDA)
  • 0mg manganese (approx. 98%)
  • 230mg magnesium (approx. 67%)

Plus many other minerals in smaller quantities. However, it also contains:

  • 605 kcals
  • 43g fat
  • 24g sugar

In short: Dark chocolate is high in some good things and high in some not-so-good things

What are the health benefits of eating dark chocolate?

Apart from the list of nutrients above, dark chocolate has some other surprisingly stimulating health benefits. Most of the health magic comes from a few types of compound called flavanols, flavonoids and polyphenols. ‘Superfoods’ are food stuffs that have a high concentration of nutrients and often include these magic compounds. Flavanols, flavonoids and polyphenols are associated with a number of health benefits:

  • Disease resistance: High concentration of anti-oxidants combat disease causing free-radicals; potential to lower the risk of cancer.
  • Healthy heart: flavonoids can help lower blood pressure and increased blood flow to the heart and brain; reduced risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • Cholesterol control: dark chocolate polyphenols have been linked with controlling cholesterol.
  • Blood pressure & blood sugar: consumptions of small amounts of dark chocolate have been shown to reduce hypertension and fasting blood sugar levels in diabetics.
  • Brain function: flavonoid-rich foods like dark chocolate, red wine and tea have been connected to improved cognitive abilities.

In short: Compounds in dark chocolate can boost your heart, blood and brain health

Why is dark chocolate healthier than milk chocolate?

The ingredient that contains all this good stuff in chocolate is the cocoa so any chocolate that has a higher proportion of cocoa in its ingredients has more flavanols, flavonoids and polyphenols. And dark chocolate has more cocoa than milk chocolate.

As dark chocolate contains more cocoa, it contains less sugar, which is why it is often has a less sweet and sometimes bitter taste, and less sugar – particularly processed sugar as is typically added to factory-produced chocolate – is a good thing.

Whilst dark chocolate also can have a higher fat content than milk chocolate in the form of cocoa butter, cocoa butter itself has a good proportion of monounsaturated fat in the form of heart-friendly oleic acid.

So, in a praline-nutshell: Dark is healthier than milk because it has more cocoa and less sugar.

What about white chocolate?

White chocolate isn’t chocolate. It just isn’

The Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate

Chocolate is loved the world over and in 2008/09 the world production of cocoa exceeded 3.5 billion tonnes (that’s the equivalent weight of the number of double decker buses it would take to stretch the length of Britain three times).

Whilst the high-sugar content of its white- and milk- counterparts are not to be enjoyed as part of a regular diet, dark chocolate is surprisingly nutritious.

 

Summary

Whilst it’s clear that cocoa contains lots of lovely health-boosting compounds, there isn’t any evidence that their benefits outweigh the negatives of consuming the calories, fat and sugars contained in any variety of chocolate.

Chocolate remains a treat but when you do indulge in a little, you’re likely to benefit by switching from milk to a quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage.

In short: Chocolate is neither a food group nor a magic bullet to health but this will never stop us from enjoying it.

 

Article by Nicola Hasted

Freelance Writer and Blogger

chocolate shards with raspberry pieces

14 fun facts about Chocolate ❤❤❤❤❤

Chocolate is awesome.

Here are fourteen facts about chocolate because we love it so much:

 

  1. The word ‘chocolate’ comes from the original chocolate beverages drunk by the Aztecs.
  2. It takes approximately 889 cacao beans to make 1kg of chocolate.
  3. The world’s largest chocolate bar weighed a whopping 5,792kg and was made by Thorntons to celebrate its 100th
  4. Cocoa and dark chocolate contains more anti-oxidants than blueberries and acai berries.
  5. The idea for chocolate chip cookies was sold to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  6. Both dogs and cats will become ill and possibly die from eating chocolate.
  7. Nutella was invented by an Italian pastry maker who substituted hazelnuts for cocoa during the food shortages following World War II.
  8. A lethal dose of chocolate for an adult human is 10kg.
  9. “Chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz” according to Dr David Lewis of MindLab.
  10. In the 2008-2009, the world production of cocoa was 3,515,000 tonnes.
  11. 100g of dark chocolate (70-85%) contains 11g of fibre.
  12. Chocolate has over 600 flavour compounds compared to red wine which only has 200.
  13. The scientific name for the tree that chocolate comes from means ‘food of the gods’.
  14. Brussels Airport sells more than 800 tonnes of chocolate every year, making it the biggest vendor of chocolate in the world.

 

Article by Nicola Hasted

Freelance Writer and Blogger