- Food and Cooking
Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
The Food Of The Gods
Chocolate is extremely popular, so popular that in the United States we eat around 11 pounds of chocolate per person every year. There are many great reasons to frequently enjoy dark chocolate. Good quality chocolate tastes so good and has many health benefits.To really take advantage of the health benefits of chocolate it is very important to make sure that the chocolate you eat has no less than 70% cocoa content. If you really don't like the taste of dark chocolate, some milk chocolate is better than no chocolate at all.
photo by Salina Hainzl
Dark Chocolate Is Great For Your Mind
Chocolate is produced from the seeds that grow in the pod of the cacao tree. Theobroma cacao is the scientific name for the chocolate tree and it literally translates into "food of the gods" which I think is very fitting.
There are more than 300 chemicals in chocolate that affect our bodies. Of all of the reasons why we love to eat chocolate, the reason we eat so much is most likely because of the effects it has on our brains. Some of the beneficial chemicals in chocolate are:
Anandamide the bliss molecule, which is an endogenous cannabinoid neurotransmitter that is related to THC, the chemical in marijuana that creates a "high". Even though it's related to THC, anadamide doesn't make us "high" instead it produces a mild euphoria and helps to relieve pain.
Phenylethylamine or PEA, known as the love molecule, it is the substance that causes the intense and amazing feeling we get when falling in love. Naturally occuring in the brain, it is a neurotransmitter that is very closely related to amphetamines.
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that most people think about when they eat Turkey. Tryptophan causes our brain to release serotonin which is a neurotransmitter. Serotonin helps prevents depression and it regulates our mood.
Caffeine, Theobromine, and Theophylline which belong to the class of compound known as xanthines. Xanthines are stimulants that help to improve breathing, stimulate the heart, and affect our nervous system. Theobromine in particular may be why Chocolate is such a good cough medicine alternative. Theophylline is used to treat lung disorders such as asthma.
Favorite Chocolate Poll
What is your favorite kind of chocolate?
Dark Chocolate Bars
Dark Chocolate Is Great For Your Body
Dark Chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, one 3,5 ounce bar has approximately double the antioxidants of a glass of red wine. Chocolate contains catechins, phenols, and procyanidins which are antioxidants that protect our hearts and help lower LDL (the bad cholesterol).
Even though dark chocolate usually had added sugar, there is some evidence to suggest that cacao protects our teeth by preventing plaque buildup and killing bad bacteria.
Magnesium is a beneficial mineral that aids in the bodies absorption of calcium, stabilizes the heart, and helps to relax muscles.Chocolate is one of the best sources of natural magnesium.
Chocolate is also a good natural source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron,and the vitamins A, B1, C, D and E.
Although chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, about one third of the fat in chocolate is stearic acid. Stearic acid is converted by the liver to monounsaturated oleac acid which is good for your heart.
Chocolate Consumption Poll
How Much Chocolate Do You Eat In A Year?
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My funny little cacao story
Don't mistake Theobroma Cacao for the Coca plant (Erythroxylum Coca). Not that I thought it was possible to confuse these two plants but ... sometime around 2005, when I was a wholesaler of raw cacao beans, one of my competitors told a health food store manager who carried my beans that he would not ever be willing to carry cacao beans because, according to him, they are the main ingredient in cocaine. I have no Idea how he managed to convince her that they were the same plant but he did. She was so upset and very adamant that we were doing something that would get her in legal trouble. It took one of my salesman and I about two days to calm her down enough for us to able to explain that coca and cacao plants are two totally different species.
Dark Chocolate Or Milk Chocolate Duel
Most people enjoy chocolate. Milk chocolate is generally more popular than Dark Chocolate but the sales of Dark chocolate are starting to catch up due to the health benefits. I love dark chocolate, but I don't really care for milk chocolate.
Do you prefer Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate and why?
Please let me know what you think about this lens.