We are all familiar with the taste of chocolate. It is one of the most favourite snacks for all time.
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Chocolate is made from Theobroma cacao seeds. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and every chocolate products. Chocolate has been consumed since the early Olmec civilisation, 1200 BCE in Mesoamerica.
It does not only serve as tasty snacks for the sweet tooth but also provides numerous health benefits. Before we learn about the proven health benefits of chocolate, let’s see the nutrition facts of chocolate.
Nutrition Facts of Chocolate
Both light chocolate and dark chocolate give different benefits. Dark chocolate has more catechin, a flavonoid present in fruits, which benefit the heart’s health.
Chocolate contains high antioxidants that can protect your body from oxidative stress and improve the overall immune system.
Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate contains around 546 calories per gram. It also includes a high quantity of fat and sugar depending on the sweetener used.
Chocolate contains minerals including magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. Additionally, it is also rich in vitamins including vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin E.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
1. Reduced risks of heart diseases
It is a widely known fact that chocolate helps reduce cardiovascular risks due to the high amount of antioxidants in dark chocolate, it helps protect the body from the oxidations of LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
This results in much lesser cholesterol lodged in the arteries which then restores the flexibility of the arteries and reduces the risks of possible cardiovascular diseases.
2. Cognitive functions
The brain needs more nutrients and oxygen to function. This is where chocolate comes in! Especially for dark chocolate which significantly helps in red blood cell production.
Chocolate also increases the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain.
Moreover, the flavonols (a non-nutrient, bioactive compound within the flavonoid family) in cocoa help the brain to function more effectively.
To boost the performance of the brain, we need caffeine. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, an antidepressant contained in cocoa that can help reduce fatigue and enhance brain function.
3. Fetal growth
Chocolate can help in blood circulation, and oxygen to the fetus, the high flavonoids in chocolate helps boost fetal growth.
Researchers at the Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada say that eating chocolate during pregnancy may encourage fetal growth.
They see more significant than expected blood flow from 129 women who were between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant.
While it helps the fetus grow, chocolate also reduces the risks of pre-eclampsia (a dangerous pregnancy complication).
4. Reduced stress
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine. It is the brain chemical that is responsible for your feelings when you are falling in love. The compound stimulates your brain to release endorphin, the “happy” hormone.
There are antidepressants contained in cocoa called alkaloid and theobromine. They are stimulants and proven to be an active mood elevator.
5. Reduced diabetes
Although chocolate is sweet in nature, it can also be bitter due to the alkaloids presence. Alkaloids help neutralise the sugar in blood while also acting as a great stimulant.
These alkaloids stimulate the secretion of insulin which breaks down the sugar.
6. Good for the Skin
Not only as a sweet treat, but unprocessed cocoa beans can also be useful to enhance the appearance of the skin.
The high antioxidants level in cocoa beans is proven to help protect the skin from UV light. Moreover, cocoa beans can reduce melanoma!
It is recommended to consume around 30g of chocolate per day to help boost your health.
The rawer the chocolate is, the better it is for your health. For more information about the benefits of chocolate and other sweet snacks, visit Okadoc and consult with your healthcare provider online.
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