The powerful heart-protecting antioxidant
Who would have thought that chocolate, in addition to being tasty, is also good for your health and can even help you lose weight.
However, for this to happen, the food must contain at least 70% cocoa powder in its composition, that is, it must be dark chocolate. Among the positive points of dark chocolate, the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer stands out. Furthermore, the food protects the brain and can contribute to reducing bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
Flavonoids, especially epicatechin, are the most important substances in dark chocolate. They are present in cocoa bean powder and are a powerful antioxidant, that is, they act by fighting free radicals present in the body.
These flavonoids will reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and can lower bad cholesterol, LDL, and blood pressure. They also help to reduce the chances of strokes, improve the skin and protect the brain.
This chocolate contains caffeine, which is a central nervous system stimulant, improving concentration and energy. It also has a thermogenic effect, contributing to weight loss.
The food also has good amounts of magnesium, important for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and which helps prevent the formation of kidney and gallstones. Iron is present in dark chocolate and is important for preventing anemia. The food also contains fiber, a substance that helps improve intestinal transit.
Properties of dark chocolate (bitter):
|Dark Chocolate Nutrients (100 grams):
|11 grams of fiber
|67% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron
|58% of the DDR of magnesium
|89% of copper DDR
|98% DDR of manganese
|It also contains a lot of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
Improves metabolism helping you lose weight
This is one of the greatest benefits of dark chocolate and also one of the most unknown. Increased metabolism. Consuming dark chocolate can increase the amount of calories that the body uses to carry out its daily activities (that is, dark chocolate burns fat).
Dark chocolate contains monounsaturated fats that have the ability to stimulate the body to use more energy from fat stores. Therefore, if you maintain a balanced diet, your body will be forced to mobilize fat stores to be converted into fuel for your cells.
To obtain these benefits from dark chocolate, researchers recommend consuming 2 to 3 squares (a quantity that should not exceed 30g per day) of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content.
When you feel hungry, eat just one square of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. It will create a stimulus in your brain so that you feel satisfied with what it provides you, making it a great option for anyone looking to lose weight.
Increases the feeling of well-being
Dark chocolate can alter the brain’s functioning mechanism by stimulating the release of some neurotransmitters (substances that transmit signals between nerve cells, or neurons). Serotonin, endorphin, anandamide and theobromine are some of these substances that act directly on the feeling of well-being, reducing stress and leading to a feeling of well-being and euphoria.
A healthy stimulant of the central nervous system (SNS), it causes a diuretic, vasodilating action, which tones the heart. It also has two xanthines, caffeine and theoxanthin, substances that stimulate the SNS. These xanthines contain around 40 to 60% lipids, called cocoa butter. But since this is a very complete food, it also contains flavonoids, minerals and some vitamins. It is therefore a very complete and powerful food for combating anxiety, bulimia, obesity, headache, insomnia and tachycardia.
Protects the body – Antioxidant effect
Dark chocolate has the ability to fight free radicals. This food has a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. When there is oxidation, we produce free radicals.
Dark chocolate has a high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are the compounds used to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.
Prevents Cancer – Fights intestinal diseases
Dark chocolate has a good amount of flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. Cancer is related to the oxidation of DNA, excessive oxidation increases the risk of the disease. As flavonoids act by preventing part of this oxidation, they end up preventing the risk of cancer.
Protects the heart
By contributing to the reduction of LDL levels and increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and acting to reduce blood pressure, automatic protection against arterial blockages and heart attacks is yet another of the benefits of dark chocolate. According to research carried out in Sweden, consuming dark chocolate twice a week resulted in a 66% lower chance of death from heart complications. The same study also revealed that consuming a small portion of dark chocolate once a week can reduce the chances of death from heart complications by up to 50%.
How to consume dark chocolate:
Dark chocolate can be consumed plain, but it is also interesting to prepare it with fruits, especially red and purple ones. This is because they have strong antioxidant action and together with chocolate, they can help enhance the benefits of the sweet.
Avoid consuming dark chocolate with milk or other sources of calcium, as the oxalate present in cocoa inhibits calcium absorption.
Cocoa, the fruit from which chocolate is made, originates from the tropical regions of South and Central America.
To make chocolate, the almond inside the cocoa is removed. It is rich in flavonoids, iron, zinc, among other nutritional substances. After some procedures, a fat is extracted from this almond, called cocoa butter, and the rest of it is ground. In the past, it was enough to take this powder and mix it with flavorings to make a drink, but the result was very bitter.
So, sugar was added to the recipe, at the time this sweetener was not yet refined and the cocoa butter, which is rich in polyunsaturated fats, started to be removed and then added back into the preparation. Thus, the first chocolate was basically composed of cocoa bean powder, cocoa butter and sugar.
This first combination, despite the sugar, contains many positive points. This is because cocoa powder is rich in epicatechin, a type of flavonoid with strong antioxidant action, and also contains chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and caffeine. Furthermore, cocoa butter contains good fats, polyunsaturated fats, which have a protective effect on the body.
Unfortunately, over time, many chocolate manufacturers began to replace the expensive cocoa butter with hydrogenated fats, added more sugar, included milk and reduced the cocoa powder in the recipe. Thus, the food lost its healthy aspects.
Currently, there are several types of chocolate, some that still maintain the characteristics of the original production and others that have had their recipes modified and therefore no longer provide benefits.
Discover each type of chocolate:
Dark chocolate: Contains at least 70% cocoa powder in its composition. This food does not contain milk, and has less sugar and fats. When consumed in moderate amounts, up to 30 grams per day, it can provide several health benefits.
Semi-sweet chocolate: Contains at least 40% cocoa powder in its composition. It has less milk and sugar. The quantities of cocoa powder are not yet sufficient to provide considerable health benefits.
Milk chocolate: Contains at least 25% cocoa powder in its composition, it also contains milk, which makes the food contain cholesterol and saturated fat. Furthermore, the candy has a lot of sugar and may contain hydrogenated fats.
White chocolate: It does not contain cocoa powder in its composition. It is made with cocoa butter and sugar and, unfortunately, in many cases it also contains good amounts of hydrogenated fats.