Chocolate for Health and Beauty: Benefits, Types and Nutrients

Chocolate can provide a number of benefits to the body, but for that to happen, its cocoa composition must be at least 70% , that is, it must be dark chocolate. Among the positive points of dark chocolate are the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, in addition, it protects the brain and can contribute to the reduction of bad cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these benefits occur because dark chocolate has good amounts of cocoa powder, which is rich in flavonoids. This substance is a powerful antioxidant and provides all these positive health effects.

Cocoa, the fruit of which chocolate is made, has its origin in the tropical regions of Central and South America. The fruit was very prestigious among the Mayans and the Aztecs, and it was brought to Europe by the Spanish, the pre-Columbian people used cocoa to produce a drink that was a great source of energy.

To prepare the chocolate , the almond that is inside the cocoa is eliminated , it is rich in flavonoids, iron, zinc and other nutrients, after some procedures, a fat is extracted from the almond, called cocoa butter, and the rest is made into powder. . Previously, it was enough to get this powder and mix the flavors to make a drink, but the result was very bitter, so sugar was added to the recipe. This sweetener was unrefined and the cocoa butter, which is rich in polyunsaturated fats, came to be separated and then added in the preparation, therefore, the first chocolate was mainly composed of cocoa bean powder, butter of cocoa and sugar.

This first combination, despite the sugar, contains many positive points because cocoa powder is rich in epicatechin , a type of flavonoid with strong antioxidant action, and they also have chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and caffeine. In addition, cocoa butter has good polyunsaturated fats, which have a protective effect on the body.

Unfortunately, over time, many candy makers have started to substitute highly priced cocoa butter with hydrogenated fats , more added sugar, and milk, so chocolate is losing its health aspects.

Types of Chocolates

Currently there are several types of chocolate that still retain some of the characteristics of the original production and others that have the modified recipe and therefore no longer provide benefits. Get information about each type of chocolate:

Milk chocolate

It has at least 25% cocoa powder in its recipe and milk, which makes the food have cholesterol and saturated fats, in addition, it contains an excess of sugar and its fats can be hydrogenated.

Semisweet chocolate

It has at least 40% cocoa powder in its composition, it also has less milk and sugar. The amount of cocoa butter is still insufficient to provide substantial health benefits.

Bitter chocolate or dark chocolate

It has at least 70% cocoa powder in its composition, this food has almost no milk and much less sugar and fat. When consumed in moderate amounts of up to 30 grams per day , it can provide different health benefits.

White chocolate

It does not have cocoa powder in its composition . It is made with cocoa butter and sugar, and unfortunately, in many cases it also has good amounts of hydrogenated fats. This is the worst option for health.

The nutrients in dark chocolate

Flavonoids, especially epicatechin , are the most important substances in dark chocolate, they are present in cocoa and almond powder, it is a powerful antioxidant that acts against free radicals present in the body.

These flavonoids will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer , they can lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure. They also help reduce the chances of strokes, improve the skin and protect the brain, check these 20 Foods for your brain and your well-being !!! .

The bitter chocolate has caffeine, which is a stimulant of the central nervous system, improves concentration and energy , also has a thermogenic effect, contributing to weight loss.

It also has good amounts of magnesium , important for the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles and helps prevent the formation of stones in the kidneys and bladder. Iron is present in dark chocolate and is important to avoid anemia . It also has fiber, a substance that helps improve intestinal transit.

nutrientsdark chocolate – 30gsemi-sweet chocolate – 30gMilk chocolate – 30 gwhite chocolate – 30 g
calories179 calories164 calories160 calories162 calories
protein2.34 g1.4 g2.3 g1.76 g
total fat12.79 g9.4 g8.9 g9.6 g
carbohydrates13.77 g18:3517.8 g17.7 g
total sugars7.2 g14.3 g15.4 g17.7 g
Fibers3.3 g2.1 g1 g0.1 g
football22 mg17 mg57 mg60 mg
iron03:57 mg2.4 mg0.7 mg12:07 mg
magnesium68 mg44 mg19 mg4 mg
Match92 mg62 mg62 mg53 mg
potassium214 mg168 mg112 mg86 mg
sodium6 mg7 mg24 mg27 mg
Zinc0.99 mg0.6 mg0.69 mg12:22 mg
vitamin K2.2 mcg2.4 mcg1.7 mcg2.7 mcg
caffeine24 mg13 mg6 mg0
Saturated fats7.3 g5 g5.5 g5.8 g
monounsaturated fats3.8 g2.8 g2.1 g2.7 g
Polyunsaturated fats0.12 g0.3 g0.4 g0.3 g
Trans fat0.009 g0.034 g00
Cholesterol1 mg2 mg7 mg6 mg

Take a look at what percentage of the daily value * of some nutrients is in the recommended dose of dark chocolate, 30 grams:

  • 33% saturated fat
  • 26% magnesium
  • 25.5% iron
  • 23.3% of total fat
  • 13.2% fibers
  • 13.2% phosphorus
  • 4.7% protein

* Daily Values ​​for Adults based on a 2,000 kcal or 8,400 kJ diet. Your daily values ​​may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.

Keep in mind that despite having more calories, dark chocolate has less sugar . When compared to dark chocolate, the semi-sweet version has twice the sugar, 7 grams more; milk chocolate has 8 grams more of sugar and white 10 grams more.

If you are curious, check here for more information about sugar: Diseases, types of sugar and calories from it

Proven benefits of dark chocolate

Protects the cardiovascular system

The flavonoid epicatechin in dark chocolate, which is also found in green tea , stimulates the increase in good cholesterol, HDL, and decreases the bad cholesterol, LDL . Bad cholesterol can oxidize, clog blood vessels, and lead to heart problems. In addition, flavonoids help to dilate the arteries, allowing better blood circulation.

survey conducted by Monash University in Melbourne , Australia, with 2013 people, noted that consuming dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa helps prevent heart attacks and reduce the risk of patients with cardiovascular problems. Importantly, this benefit only occurs when chocolate is included in a balanced diet.

Cholesterol control

The flavonoid epicatechin in dark chocolate helps increase good cholesterol , HDL and lower bad cholesterol, LDL.

Lowers blood pressure

The flavonoids present in chocolate promote the dilation of the arteries, reducing vascular resistance, which contributes to the improvement of blood pressure . An analysis of 20 research studies , bringing together a total of more than 850 participants, done by Cochrane (an international research group) found that consuming dark chocolate helps lower blood pressure.

Reduces the risk of cancer

Dark chocolate has a good amount of flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants. Cancer is related to the oxidation of DNA and excessive oxidation increases the risk of disease, as flavonoids prevent part of this oxide, they end up avoiding the risk of cancer.

Protect the skin

The ultraviolet radiation increases oxidation of skin cells , since the black chocolate flavonoids have strong antioxidant action, will protect some skin against this radiation.

study carried out by the University of Laval in Quebec , Canada, with 60 women, observed that the consumption of dark chocolate helps to keep the high solar radiation on the skin at bay.

Provides a feeling of well-being

Chocolate is a source of tryptophan , an amino acid that is the precursor of serotonin, the hormone responsible for pleasure . In addition, it has neurotransmitters that are related to relaxation and the reduction of anxiety .

Protect the brain

Because it contains flavonoids that have antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces excess oxidation in the brain and can prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Research conducted by the University of Toronto in Canada showed that consuming dark chocolate helps reduce the risk of having a cerebrovascular accident (CVA). Several studies participated together in the research and one of them was done with 45 thousand volunteers.

Antioxidant action

The strong antioxidant activity of the flavonoids present in dark chocolate fights free radicals and therefore provides benefits for the whole body . In addition to reducing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems, they also prevent cellular aging.

Helps to lose weight

A study conducted by Taiwan’s Chung Hsing University noted that phenolic acids present in cocoa can increase the production of the hormone leptin, which increases feelings of fullness.

On the other hand, chocolate contains caffeine , which has a thermogenic action (which speeds up metabolism) and therefore helps burn calories .

study conducted by the University of California, USA, found that healthy people who exercised and ate chocolate twice a week tended to have a lower body mass index than those who exercised and ate chocolate less frequently.

Importantly, this benefit can only occur when chocolate is combined with a balanced diet. However, some health experts believe that dark chocolate does not contribute to weight loss since although it contains beneficial substances, it also has a high amount of sugar.

Recommended amount of dark chocolate

The recommended amount of dark chocolate is 30 grams per day ; More than this it can be problematic, as it is a very caloric food.

How to consume dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate can be consumed alone, but it is also interesting to prepare it with fruits , especially red and green because they have a strong antioxidant power and together with chocolate can help maximize the benefits of this sweet.

Avoid the consumption of milk with dark chocolate or other sources of calcium , because the oxalate present in cocoa inhibits the absorption of this mineral.

Comparison of chocolate with other foods

When comparing the main element that makes up dark chocolate, cocoa , with other foods that are also used to make healthy sweets, you have some advantages.

Cocoa has 420 times less fat than raw coconut , in addition, it has flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants, and coconut does not have this substance. Copuazu has a protein of high biological value like cocoa, however, like coconut, it does not have flavonoids.

Combining dark chocolate

Chocolate + other antioxidants

You should include other antioxidant foods in your diet in addition to dark chocolate. This is because the sweet is too caloric and thus it will not be the only source of antioxidants, since it cannot be consumed in large quantities. Includes fruits, especially red and green .

Tea is also a good option , because it has flavonoids like cocoa, thus, it is possible to obtain good amounts of antioxidants and fewer calories.

Check here the Types of Tea: Properties, Benefits and Side Effects

Chocolate + Banana

Both foods are sources of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, the hormone responsible for pleasure, therefore this combination is excellent for providing a feeling of well-being.

Contraindications of dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is not recommended for people with diabetes . Although it contains flavonoids (antioxidants) that improve insulin sensitivity, it also has good amounts of sugar, this can increase glucose levels and trigger a crisis.

The people with obesity and allergies should also avoid cocoa dark chocolate . Anyone with allergies or lactose intolerance needs to check if their ingredients really do not have these substances.

There is no proven link between chocolate consumption and acne . This will depend on each individual; some people can develop acne after eating a fatty food, such as chocolate.

The risks and side effects of excessive chocolate consumption

The main problem with excessive consumption of dark chocolate is weight gain , in addition, the large amount of sugar can also increase the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and increase the risk of diabetes.

Too much chocolate can cause headaches , as it contains vasoactive amines that can cause dilation of the cerebral veins. Too much chocolate can also increase the propensity for kidney stones because the food is high in oxalate.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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