Chocolate nutrition facts and health benefits

Nutritious chocolate is made of cocoa paste, cocoa butter, and sugar. The seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree (native to Central and South America) produce the cocoa paste and cocoa butter. The cacao seeds are fermented, roasted, and ground into a paste. The basis for all chocolate and cocoa products is nonalcoholic chocolate liquor. It contains a multitude of nutrients: cocoa powerful antioxidants, fats (through cocoa butter); carbohydrates (through starch and various sugars); large amounts of vegetable proteins, potassium, and magnesium; small amounts of calcium and sodium; traces of iron; vitamins A, B1, (which is thiamine), B2 (which is riboflavin), D, and E; and caffeine. Many of these are good nutrients, creating chocolate nutrition health benefits. For a relatively small quantity, chocolate is a high-energy food. The difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate is the ratio of cocoa liquor-to-milk. Some  manufacturers use milk solids instead of whole milk, accounting for the many varieties of chocolate.

Origins of chocolate

The word chocolate may have come from the Mayan “cacao” or the Aztec “chocolatl. When Spanish explorers came to Europe, they brought chocolate as a drink made of powdered beans which were similar to cocoa, but the drink was not sweetened. People experimented with cacao beans as they became more widely available. Joseph Storrs Fry created the first eating chocolate in 1849. Indulgence in chocolate is one of the finer experiences in life and women seem to crave chocolate more than men some speculate on is aphrodisiac virtues as a sexual stimulant. Part of this attraction may be cultural: women are given chocolate as signs of love and affection.

Chocolate health benefits are recognized in the medical world

There are real  health benefits of chocolate recognized in the medical world. Chocolate has always been considered bad for your health, but that is not the case. Dark chocolate is a healthy chocolate. These are some chocolate health benefits:

Blood pressure Dark chocolate has been proven in studies to lower blood pressure and is considered healthy chocolate. The same is not true of milk chocolate or white chocolate. If you eat dark chocolate to lower your blood pressure, you have to balance the calories somewhere else in your diet.

Heart disease and flavanol Dark chocolate is also a potent antioxidant because it contains flavonoids (phenolic compounds); the same as red wine. It is believed that flavonoids protect against or slow down heart disease. Even though chocolate contains a saturated fat called stearic acid, it does not appear to be a factor in raising cholesterol. Flavanol in dark chocolate makes a difference in heart

High cocoa antioxidant content, surprisingly most people do not know that cocoa contains a large amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants balance and neutralize free radicals in the human organism. Free radicals effect cell in the body and are at the source of the visible signs of aging. For this reason dark chocolate is considered very good for health as the content of cocoa is rich in antiaging antioxidants as well as some of the best antioxidant to fight free radicals. The more the chocolate is diluted with milk the lesser and more refined the cocoa content is and the lesser amounts of of these most powerful antioxidants the cocoa contains.

Smokers A small study conducted in Sweden and published in the journal Heart found that if smokers eat a small amount of dark chocolate, their artery function improves within hours. If they eat a few squares of dark chocolate a day they may reduce their risk of developing hardening of the arteries.

Chronic fatigue syndrome Many people experience chronic fatigue. Some chronic fatigue is caused by stress, long working hours, or personal problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness with primary symptoms that include sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, inability to think straight, fatigue, and headaches. Depression is also seen in many patients. While symptom management is achieved with medications, alternative therapies are being considered, including chocolate health benefits. Some of the natural nutrients in dark chocolate are being used in an effort to relieve chronic fatigue syndrome. Since dark chocolate is healthy chocolate, it is being studied as a remedy. The feeling of well being that is produced when eating chocolate may help people with this illness.

Cancer People can use all the help they can in the fight against cancer. If the flavanoids, flavanol, and antioxidants in healthy chocolate can prevent cancer, it is well worth trying it. No studies have yet proved that it  can prevent cancer, but that doesn’t mean future studies won’t find that true.

Where do you find the best chocolate?

It is a popular belief that Belgian, German, and Swiss chocolates are the purest and least processed, retaining the smooth, creamy taste, the flavanoids, flavanol, and antioxidants that are naturally contained in the chocolate. Cocoa is not the primary ingredient in commercial chocolate bars and candy, but saturated vegetable fat and powdered milk, and this has caused chocolate to have a reputation of being fattening and tooth-decaying. But when true chocolate is manufactured, it contains natural ingredients, a higher percentage of cocoa solids, and low percentages of sugar. These are healthy chocolate products. There are organic chocolates, dairy-free or sugar-free chocolates, vegan chocolates, and healthy chocolate for dogs. Some gourmet chocolates are handmade into various treats.

Chocolate uses in diet

It is moulded and shaped into various forms, like bells for a wedding shower favor, bunnies for spring holidays, hearts, and various figures for large events. It  is given as a corporate gift or Valentine’s Day gift. It is used in gift baskets for various occasions, in wedding favors, and for the Halloween holiday. There are chocolate recipes for cookies, cakes, and candy that people make for their households or give as gifts to others. Strawberries are dipped in dark chocolate. Packages of baking chocolate and cocoa have recipes printed on them. Magazines promote chocolate recipes for the holidays. Chocolate can be enjoyed as a treat or used for medical reasons. It is a very versatile creation. It  has been around for a long time and will continue to be a favourite with consumers.

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