Chocolate is a known most ultimate comfort food, it is the best stand-by in times of stress and also work as a mood-enhancer and romance-inducer in more positive circumstances. But is it healthy at all?
Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain and obesity, a number of health benefits are associated with eating chocolate on regular basis. So the next time you eat chocolate, you might not feel very guilty about it.
Made from the tropical theobroma cacao tree seeds, chocolate’s use dates back to the Olmec Civilization in the Mesoamerica.
After the European discovered the America, chocolate became a widely popular treat and its demand increased overall.
Some Fast Facts about Chocolate:
- It has been a while now since chocolate has been associated with health conditions such as: diabetes, coronary heart diseases, and hypertension.
- High levels of antioxidants are believed to be found in chocolates.
- Studies show that chocolate is effective in lowering the blood cholesterol levels and preventing memory decline.
Chocolate has been receiving a ton of negative publicity and bad press because of its high fat and sugar contents. Its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.
However, in a review of chocolate and health effects the Netherlands Journal of Medicine quoted that it is not at all a bad news.
The authors have pointed to the discovery that cacao, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active compounds that are beneficial for a various health aspects.
This revelation has changed people’s views on chocolate, and they have actually stimulated research into how it might impact aging, and conditions such as oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and memory decline.
Chocolate may have a range of health benefits depending on the content of cacao in the bar. The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more beneficial the chocolate is.
Chocolate has reportedly been said to have following main benefits:
- Prevention from Cholesterol
It is reported by the authors that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF, as part of a low-fat diet, may support cardiovascular health which can be done by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
- Prevention from Cognitive Decline
Lead author, Farzaneh A. Sorond, said:
“As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”
- Reduction in Cardiovascular Risks
Based on the researches, the authors concluded that higher levels of chocolate consumption could be linked to a lower risk of cardio metabolic disorders.
Although they called for further experimental studies to confirm whether consuming chocolate is beneficial.
Producers of milk chocolate claim that their product is healthier because it contains milk which provides calcium and protein. While on the other hand manufacturers of dark chocolate find their product better because of higher contents of iron and antioxidants.
So we have a chart here which actually shows which one of the chocolate product contains what and how much.
As much as dark the chocolate will be, the concentration of cocoa will be higher, and so, in theory, the level of antioxidants in the bar will be higher.
The nutrients vary widely in commercially available chocolate bars, depending on the brand and type we choose. It is best to check the label if we want to be sure about the nutrients.
Risks and Precautions:
Along with the benefits eating chocolate may have some side effects too:
- Weight Gain
- Sugar Content
- Bone Health
- Heavy Metals
Last but not least, eating chocolate can have both health benefits and risks. As ever, moderation is key.