|Dark Chocolate Quick Facts|
|Origin||Native to South America|
History of chocolate takes us back to 1900 B.C. when cacao seeds are regarded as a gift of Quetzacoatl (god of wisdom). In 1847, British chocolate company initiated first solid chocolate bar (edible) from ingredients: sugar, cocoa powder and cocoa butter. In late 1800s and early 1900s, the names such as Mars, Cadbury and Hershey were renowned. Chocolate’s popularity has grown over years. The chocolate producers produced dark chocolate which is not healthy. Now there are more companies which make chocolate of high quality not only being dark but is fairly traded as well as organic.
Dark chocolate has become a trend in present market place and its sales do not seem to slow down. Science has shown much more benefits of dark chocolate due to which its popularity grows continuously. Emulsifier such as soy lecithin helps to preserve the uniqueness in flavor.
Types of Dark Chocolate
- Unsweetened chocolate: The purest form of dark chocolate which contains from 85 to 100% of cocoa beans. It is too bitter for consumption. Also known as baker’s chocolate, it adds rich chocolate flavor to cookies and cakes.
- Bittersweet chocolate: This chocolate contains 65 to 80% cocoa beans with 33% sugar. It is the best dark chocolate being not too bitter to taste with high percentage of cocoa.
- Semisweet: It is the sweeter version of dark chocolate having about 35-60% cocoa and 50% sugar. It has sweet taste but is less healthy.
- Dutch processed dark chocolate: This chocolate goes through a chemical process called dutching which changes color and also reduce bitter flavor. The chocolate loses its antioxidants during ditching that makes it a poor choice for health.
Health benefits of Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate has high content of flavonoids which displays therapeutic activities. Dark chocolate is beneficial for cardiovascular problems, alleviate hypertension, lowers the chances of colon cancer, promote immune function, slows aging, prevent Alzheimer’s and regulates blood sugar. Here we present the health benefits that could be achieved with consumption of dark chocolate:
- Cardiovascular health
Research shows that cocoa, chocolate and flavan-3-ols that helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. Foods with high content of flavonols are related with cardiovascular health which suggests that specific flavonoids possess cardiovascular properties. It lowers the chances of atherosclerosis by hardening and thickening of arteries and restores flexibility of arteries or prevents white blood cells holding the blood vessel walls. These flavonoids helps to lower oxidative stress, promote endothelial function and increase endothelial prostacyclin release, inhibits lipid oxidation, increase sensitivity of insulin receptors or angiotens in converting enzymes.
- Helpful for cardiometabolic disorder
Generally, cardiometabolic disorders are burden on people but it could be prevented. The meta-analysis and systematic review of cocoa products with flavonol helps to prevent this disorder.
- Cardiorespiratory stimulant
Cocoa has a primary alkaloid, theobromine having one tenth cardiac effects of other methylxanthines. The activity of theobromine has similar activity to caffeine. When theobromine is devoured in form of large chocolate bar do not cause electrophysiologic or acute hemodynamic cardiac changes in young and healthy adults. In healthy men, theobromine pharmacokinetics were similar when measured after 14 days of abstention from methylanthines and after one week of ingesting dark chocolate. The study results could not be extrapolated to patients having any diseases of conditions or effects of consuming chronic chocolate.
- Vascular and Endothelial function
Dark chocolate promoted a rapid and meaningful improvement of platelet and endothelial function in healthy smokers 2 to 8 hours after consumption. The smokers displayed increase in atherogenic potential as they have platelet and endothelial dysfunction being related with increasing chances of cardiovascular problems. Findings are related to antioxidant effect of dark chocolate rich in polyphenols. Excess body weight and hypertension are essential risk factors for endothelial function. Evidence has shown that dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols which promote endothelial function and reduces blood pressure in stage 1 hypertension. Consuming chocolate bars helps to lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure.
- Normalize blood sugar
Dark chocolate is helpful in making blood vessels healthy or circulation to prevent type II diabetes. It has flavonoids which lowers insulin resistance that help cells to have normal function and able to efficiently use body’s insulin. Low content of glycemic index does not cause huge spikes in level of blood sugar.
- Brain function
This chocolate promotes flow of blood to brain and heart by improving cognitive function. It has several chemical compounds with stimulant action or positive effect on cognitive health and mood. It has phenylethylamine which promotes brain to release endorphins or feel alert. Dark chocolate has caffeine which acts as a mild stimulant. In comparison to coffee, dark chocolate has less caffeine helping in mood disorders.
- Maintains oral hygiene
Theobromine found in dark chocolate is known to harden tooth enamel. It refers that proper dental hygiene lowers the chances of cavities. A mild stimulant, theobromine is not strong as caffeine but could restrain coughs. It suppresses the activity of vagus nerve responsible for coughing and also cures cough.
- Antioxidant properties
Dark chocolate is all packed with antioxidants acting against free radicals being the main cause for oxidative damage. Free radicals are involved in process of aging and causes cancer. The consumption of antioxidant rich foods such as dark chocolate prevents body from various types of cancer and also slows down the aging signs.
- Presence of Vitamins and Minerals
Natural vitamins, nutrients and minerals available in dark chocolate support overall health. Dark chocolate incorporates saturated fat, proteins, calories, and vitamins such as Vitamin B2, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B3, calcium, Vitamin K, magnesium, dietary fiber, manganese, phosphorus, iron, selenium, copper, potassium, iron and zinc. Moreover, dark chocolate has potassium and copper warding off cardiovascular ailments and stroke.
- Fulfill magnesium need
Cocoa has magnesium correcting the deficiency of magnesium in rats. Insufficient magnesium in the body are the cause for cardiovascular alterations, GI, renal, muscular and neurological disorders. Cocoa is used to accomplish the magnesium need.
- Improve cognition
Free radical damage is accused for memory loss and cognitive decline in aging. The study conducted in healthy young people resulted that consumption of flavonol rich cocoa is related with increase in cerebral blood flow which suggest that cocoa has a role in treating cerebral impairment such as stroke and dementia.
- Treatment for cancer
Flavonoid rich food helps to prevent cancer. The vitro study shows that breast cancer cells are susceptible to cytotoxic effects of cocoa deprived pentameric procyanidin and inhibiting cellular proliferation with this compounds is related with site specific dephyosphorylation and down regulation of various cell cycle regulatory proteins.
- Side effects of caffeine include increased urination, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and sleeplessness.
- Chocolate causes allergic skin reactions, acne, colic in infants, bloating, constipation, dental caries, decreased bone density, gas, eczema, headaches, increased insulin levels, increased cholesterol levels, irritable bowel syndrome, irregular heart rhythms, jitteriness, irritability, migraines, vomiting and nausea, nervousness, sleep disturbances, shakiness, weight gain and swelling under skin.
- Pregnant women should consume dark chocolate in moderate amounts because it might cause miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight.
- Dark chocolate should not be fed to cats and dogs.
- Avoid dark chocolate by those who have kidney stone in the past.
- It could trigger symptoms of migraine.
- Dark chocolate could increase the level of blood sugar.
- High intake of dark chocolate worsens anxiety disorders, diarrhea and IBS symptoms.
- Dark chocolate should not be consumed before two weeks of surgery.
- Addition of sugar causes tooth decay and cavities.
- If any side effects occur then consult the doctor immediately.
How to Eat
- Use dark chocolate in desserts and baked confectionaries.
- Grated dark chocolate is used to garnish desserts.
- It is also used in cold beverages such as Chocolate milk shake, Latino and hot beverages such as Elaichi hot chocolate and Hot chocolate.
- Use it to make cookies such as chocolate cookies and chocolate chips.
- It is mixed with other ingredients such as cream cheese Chocolate cheese cake and Sizzling brownie.
- In 1910, chocolate was firstly seen in bar.
- National Dark Chocolate Day is celebrated in February 1st.
How to store Dark Chocolate?
- Store in an airtight container with the wrapper at room temperature.
- It can also be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.