The Goodness Of chocolate!
The humble cocoa power can be used in a multitude of ways and its versatility in the culinary world is surely incontestable – The modest blend of cocoa powder, cocoa butter and some sugar, yields a delightful product that intoxicates the senses and chocolate is no doubt one of the most popular flavours in the world of desserts and confectionanes.
Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are the seeds of the cocoa tree native to Central and Southern America. It was first consumed as a bitter beverage by Aztecs 3000 years ago and was later brought to Spain by Columbus. Subsequently, it gained popularity throughout the noble houses of Europe. Since that time, it has become increasingly popular and today it is consumed across the world as a source of pleasure and gratification.
In the recent years chocolate has been considered an unfavourable indulgence due to its fat content and it has been dishonourably credited with illnesses such as obesity, acne, high blood pressure, diabetes and even migraines. However, research studies over the last decade prove that chocolate offers several health benefits!
7 Proven health benefits of dark chocolate:
- Very Nutritious: Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and a few other minerals.)
- Powerful Source of Anti Oxidants: Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants. In fact, they have way more than most other foods.
- May Improve Blood flow and Lower Blood Pressure: The bioactive compounds in cocoa may improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.
- Raises HDL and Protects LDL From Oxidation: Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.
- May Reduce Heart Disease Risk: Observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk among those who consume the most chocolate.
- May Protect Your Skin From the Sun: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage.
- Could Improve Brain Function: Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by increasing blood flow. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
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Chocolate Nutritional Facts
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 101-g bar of dark chocolate with 70–85 percent cocoa solids provides:
- 604 calories
- 7.87 g of protein
- 43.06 g of fat
- 46.36 g of carbohydrates
- 11.00 g of dietary fiber
- 24.23 g of sugar
- 12.02 milligrams (mg) of iron
- 230.00 mg of magnesium
- 3.34 mg of zinc
A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the RDI for iron
- 58% of the RDI for magnesium
- 89% of the RDI for copper
- 98% of the RDI for manganese
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
11 Reasons Chocolate’s good for you:
- Chocolate decreases stroke risk
- Chocolate reduces the likelihood of a heart attack
- Chocolate protects against blood inflammation
- Chocolate helps with math
- Chocolate may prevent cancer
- Chocolate reduces the risk of diabetes
- Chocolate is good for your skin
- Chocolate can control coughs
- Chocolate improves blood flow
- Chocolate strengthens your brain
- Chocolate makes you live longer
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Why Chocolate Is Good!
The discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has led to significant research. Cocoa is considered a source of important phytonutrients such as flavonoids, flavanols and antioxidants. These phytonutnents are responsible for reducing oxidative damage to tissues, improving blood flow to the brain, lowering blood pressure, delaying ageing and preventing atherosclerosis.
Additionally, chocolate is a good source of magnesium which helps control PMS. The feel good factor after consumption, results from the release of happiness producing brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as dopamine and serotonin. Therein lies its addictive charactenstic. Chocolate also contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine that may help induce alertness. But before you reach for that piece of chocolate cake, it is imperative to understand that not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of phytonutnents. Cocoa naturally has a very strong taste due the presence of flavonols. Processing the cocoa powder generally reduces this taste.
Unfortunately, the more chocolate is processed (through things like roasting. fermentation. alkalizing, baking, etc.) the more phytonutrients are lost. Typically, most commercial chocolates are highly processed, although in recent years, most major chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to keep the phytonutrients intact. Lined up here are some simple quick and easy recipes using different varieties of chocolate. The temptation of chocolate is impossible to resist and it seems as if the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ holds true for this wonderful creation.