Scientific tests have determined that the higher the percentage of cocoa in chocolate, the greater the benefit for people.
Just hearing the word chocolate makes our mouths water. It turns out that this food is one of the favorites for a large part of the world’s population and for which there are hundreds of variations that can be savored in sponge cakes, ice creams and, of course, in chocolate bars, among many other combinations.
For the past years, it has been speculated with the real benefit that the consumption of chocolate has on the human body. The truth is that over the past decade several studies have been carried out to better understand the benefits of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, and its derivatives.
Details to take into account
Before mentioning what the benefits of chocolate could be, it is important to make several clarifications related to this topic, which were published by the National Institutes of Health of the United States Government:
Regularly consumed chocolate uses cocoa beans that are roasted and processed in different ways, which are then combined with other ingredients such as milk.
When processed, cocoa could lose two extremely important components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Several studies have shown that the healthy particles are mostly found in cocoa solids. Therefore, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids it has.
According to the nutritionist Charmaine Alfonso, for the chocolate to produce any health benefits, it must be a dark or dark chocolate with a percentage of cocoa greater than 70%.
Several studies have revealed that chocolate stands out for having in its composition a high amount of polyphenols, in a higher concentration than in other foods such as red wine, green tea or some fruits such as apple. These provide many health benefits, being perfect natural antioxidants.
On the other hand, Dr. Luc Djoussé from Harvard Medical School, commented in a communication from the NIH that in the studies that have been carried out so far, only dark chocolate has been used, so it is not possible to know the Effects on the human body of commercial milk chocolate or white chocolate.
The cocoa bean has a high caloric value, since it is composed of up to 50% vegetable fat, mainly monounsaturated, therefore, cocoa falls within the group of foods with saturated fats, according to Dr. Alfonso to El Nuevo Día To these calories must be added those of added sugar, which is why chocolate is one of the first foods to disappear from weight loss diets.
Dr. Djoussé is convinced that it is very difficult to separate the dietary effect that chocolate can have with other healthy habits, such as exercising, not smoking or eating fiber, which go hand in hand with those who want to lead a balanced life.
Benefits of dark chocolate
Taking into consideration the previous points such as moderation when eating and the combination of other factors such as exercise and a healthy diet, these are the benefits that the consumption of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa concentration could have, according to nutritionist Diane Vitzhum from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore:
Increases heart health: The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting, and increase blood circulation to the heart, thereby reducing the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and death from heart disease .
Balances the immune system: Flavonoids prevent the immune system from racing and reduce oxidative stress, a common cause of many diseases.
Fights Diabetes: Epicatechin protects cells, strengthens them, and supports processes that help the body better use insulin, which could prevent or fight diabetes.
Improves brain function: The flavonoids in dark chocolate have a positive impact on brain function, including better reaction time, visual-spatial awareness, and stronger memory. One of the reasons for this may be that flavonoids increase blood flow to the brain.
Increases athletic performance: The epicatechin in dark chocolate increases the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which promotes circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen an athlete uses while doing moderately intense exercise. This allows the athlete to maintain the intensity of the training for longer.
Reduce stress: People who ate dark chocolate reported feeling less stressed and the researchers confirmed that after eating dark chocolate, levels of the stress hormone cortisol were reduced. This may be related to the effects of dark chocolate on heart health, as stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.