In this article we will be talking about one of the best creations of the world- chocolate. And which is the healthier chocolate.
You will be interested to know how there are actually certain health benefits associating to eating chocolates.
Yes you heard it right. Turns out there are some benefits to consuming chocolates. It has a range of health benefits associating to it. Be it dark, or milk, the original cocoa in chocolate has some ingredients which will make you all happy.
While dark chocolates definitely have more cocoa in it, which is like 35 till 100% more, it turns out that they also have a bitter taste. This is because they also have very limited levels of sugar in it.
But how good are these sweetened pleasures of life? Even milk? Does consuming milk chocolate hold any kind of dietary benefits to your body? And especially to your oral health?
We will be looking into all of that in this article.
So let’s begin:
How Are Chocolates Made?
Let’s begin with the most basic of question- how are these wondrous little things even made?
The magic begins with the cocoa trees actually. It is a long and enduring process through which the chocolate making process happens. And it includes the harvesting as well as the fermenting elements to it. The complex process will then move onto being dried and fermented.
The shells will then be taken apart from the meat which is the cocoa nibs. The nibs will then be moved into a chocolate liquor. This is then refined further and we get the cocoa solids which is the chocolate we consume.
You can call its majestic creation to the times of the Mayans in Central America. At that time, it was considered as luxury beverage. It was actually quite bitter in flavor and it would be served with a mix of other spices and even wine.
The chocolate which is in its pure sense has a deep rich and bitter flavor. It does not have any milk or sugar added to it.
Now let’s look into some interesting facts on cocoa:
Interesting Tidbits on Cocoa
Cocoa is actually one of the major ingredients that helps to helps to give you a major boost. It is actually used in relation to alkali even to improve and bring out the flavor and appearance.
But this sometimes makes for a major loss in flavanols. However if you are making use of natural cocoa, it actually retains pretty much all of the flavors of flavanols.
Did you know that when you have a higher percentage of cocoa solids, it also means that there is a higher ratio of caffeine. It is a fact that 70% of dark chocolate contains around 50 to 60mg of caffeine.
Also if you are suffering from the instance where your chocolate is blooming, be sure to not throw it away. What you can do is you just melt it and stir it properly. This will allow it to slowly cool and turn back into a solid.
When you are purchasing a chocolate which has fair-trade labelled on it, it means this confectionary was made under a fair wage. Also more importantly, it was manufactured with the exclusion of child labor.
How Does Dark Chocolate Rank In Goodness?
According to recent researches, nutritionists have pointed out how dark chocolate is effectively one of the best food options which you give you a major energy boost while tasting so good.
So how it works is that it was determined that those who eat dark chocolate will have better levels of blood pressure. Their BP will be manageable and in control.
But this in no way suggests you should start eating dark chocolate uncontrollably.
Also dark chocolate is known to have what we call antioxidants. It is an important element that gets rid of the free radicals in the body and eliminates them. It is definitely more in demand but when deciding on consuming dark chocolate, you should essentially look at the brand and ingredients to determine whether it has the good amount of cocoa in it and less of sugar and milk.
Dark Chocolate and Health
So now you may have a better understanding as to why dark chocolate is considered as the healthier option. It contains what we call 50-90% of cocoa solids as well as cocoa butter.
When it comes to milk chocolate, that only consists of 10 to 40% of cocoa solids. This means what you are eating in a milk chocolate is essentially just milk and lots and lots of sugar.
Hence the extremely sweet taste that you feel. While how it goes is you should not be feeling any traces of milk, sometimes dark chocolate can also contain milk from what we call cross-contamination.
Some brands also go ahead and add butter as well as vegetable oils and artificial flavors into their brands.
How Dark Chocolate Ranks in Health Benefits?
As we have already talked about it, your chocolate’s essence needs to come from how it is made and the kind of ingredients in it.
You need to ensure that there is sufficient cocoa in it. If there isn’t then its likely not beneficial to your health. When we talk cocoa, it needs to have extensive amount of plant chemicals which we call flavanols.
These are essential when it comes to heart protection. Did you know that dark chocolate is known to consist of atleast 3 times more flavanol as compared to milk chocolate.
Flavanols are essentially needed as they help to relax the blood vessels and also improves the blood flow. This means it actually lowers the blood pressure.
Also the flavanols in chocolate are likely to reduce the risk of you getting diabetes. They can increase insulin sensitivity too. So this serves as a great reason for you to nibble on some whenever you can.
How To Pick the Right Dark Chocolate Bars
So we have talked plenty on how dark chocolate ranks up against milk chocolate.
But now the dilemma lies- how to pick the healthy dark chocolate bars from the aisle?
Firstly when considering getting a dark chocolate, you should look for the one which has the highest cocoa percentage. This means there should be plenty of flavanols in it.
Also the dark chocolate bar should not have high sugar levels. The sugar content should be low on that. Also if you can opt for a bar which is also organic and fair-trade, that just adds to the whole nutritional benefits to it.
How to Store Dark Chocolate
So now you know how you will need to choose a chocolate which is at least 70% dark in order to gain the most benefits of flavanols.
But as the cocoa solids ratio goes up so does the taste in bitterness. But in order to gain benefits from the healthier chocolate, you need to consume chocolate which is richly dark.
So now let’s talk about how to store it. Firstly you need to know the cool dry area should have a temperature of about 65 to 70F.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know- you should not refrigerate it. If you do so, the chocolate will bloom. This is when a white coating comes on top of it. It happens when the sugar is actually rising to the surface.
While if your chocolate is blooming, it will not affect the flavor, however it does impact the way the chocolate looks.
Did you know if you store your chocolate properly, you will most likely be able to use it for over 2 years even. Now that’s a major advantage to enjoy that simple delicacy of yours for a long time!
The Benefits of Flavonoids
These are basically what you find in not just fruits and vegetables but also in dark chocolate. It is actually what helps to repair the cell damage that happens and can lead to heart diseases.
The flavonoids can also help in improving what we call the vascular function. They also assist in normalizing the cholesterol levels. It is therefore essential that when you go chocolate shopping, you pick out one which is best in all these different areas.
In recent years, researchers have determined the flavanols you get from fruits and vegetables are providing the same benefits as those from chocolates. However the former are also essentially consisting of other important minerals and vitamins which you simply can’t ignore. Hence it is important that you have a stable and wholesome lifestyle and diet.
So it all comes down to this, consuming dark chocolate is definitely one way to promote a healthy heart. But this does not mean you should include it completely as a staple food of your diet.
You must bring some dietary changes as well which will be benefiting the cardiovascular function of your body. So this means you have to consider other ways to include flavonoids in your diet too.
From among the range of chocolates we have talked about, there is no denying that the healthier chocolate is dark chocolate. But this too should be consumed sparingly.