What is it about Dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate product with high cocoa content within 70-100% cocoa solids and distinguished by its dark colour containing real cocoa solids, cocoa butter, without the milk or butter added as found in most other chocolate products.
The percentage amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate products vary due to government regulatory standards and industry standards.
For example,The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that the amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate in the US should be in the 70–85% cacao solids range.
Therefore, products classified as dark chocolate products from seed and bean chocolate vary in the amount of cocoa solids by country and market brands. Naturally, the higher the cocoa solids content the darker it is expected to appear.
What Is The Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao?
Most people think they are the same but they are not.
Cacao is produced from naturally fermented but roasted at low temperature beans of Theobroma cacao before being cold-pressed to seperate cacao butter from cacao solids. The cacao beans can be ground into powder or processed further to produce the cocoa powder.
So the first apparent difference between cacao and cocoa is in the way they are processed differently.
For the reason that they are processed differently , the nutritional compositions of cocoa and cacao are different.
Cacao is the premium purest form of chocolate. It’s one of the highest sources of antioxidants among foods and has a high amount of flavonols,protein, fibre,magnesium, iron and selenium.
Cocoa is lower in nutrients than cacao as its nutrional value reduces as the cacao is heated and processed into cocoa.
Regardless, cocoa still has a significant amount of nutrition and is far cheaper than cacao.
Is Dark Chocolate Healthy?
Yes.Dark chocolate contain significant amounts of healthy and nutritional macronutrients and micronutrients including Iron and Vitamin B6. Unknown to many people, dark chocolate contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals other than Iron.
It is particularly popular for its antioxidants content which makes it helpful for the body.
What are the side effects of dark chocolate
Unlike white chocolate that does not contain caffeine, dark chocolate contains caffeine and the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content.
For example, in some sark chocolate, you can find as much as 12 milligrams of caffeine in an ounce of the dark chocolate .
Also of concern is the Theobromine content in chocolate. Theobromine effect on the body is similar to that of caffeine so you have two stimulants present in significant quantities in Dark chocolate.
Eating large amounts of dark chocolate might cause caffeine-related side effects such as caffeine addiction , lack of sleep, anxiety, increased urination, and a abnormally fast heartbeat.
In some of cases, cocoa cause allergic skin reactions, constipation, and might trigger migraine headaches.
But if you eat moderate quantity of dark chocolate,it is unlikely that the stimulants present in it will keep you awake at night like coffee.
Why is dark chocolate not good for your weight?
Dark chocolate is loaded with a lot of calories so when eating it when you are trying to reduce or control your weight, you need to be careful because you can get so much calories than can make you overweight or obese.
What is the best time to eat dark chocolate?
If you have no genuine concern about effects of stimulants like caffeine and theobromine,you can enjoy dark chocolates as frequently as you want.
However, if those stimulants may have serious impact on your health , please avoid or take as little as possible.
And if you worry about weight gain, dark chocolates should be eaten as snack in between meals or taken when hungry so the calories gained from eating it is quickly utilised.
Which Dark chocolate is best for you?
The 100% Optimal Cocoa Percentage cocoa solids containing dark chocolate it is.
So when you need to choose a brand of dark chocolate, look for bars that have a cocoa content of 70% or higher.
Higher-percentage dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients when compared to dark chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage of solid cocoa.
What are the benefits of dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate have the following health benefits among many;
- Nutritionally loaded.
Dark chocolate contains significant amount of potassium, phosphorus,iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, unsaturated fatty acids and low quantity of polysaturated fatty acids
So if you buy premium quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids content, you get more of the nutrients from eating the dark chocolate.
For example, according to the USDA, a 101-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa solids contains:
7.87 g of protein.
43.06 g of fat.
46.36 g of carbohydrates.
11.00 g of dietary fiber.
24.23 g of sugar.
12.02 milligrams (mg) of iron.
Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts of sugar present in them are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain making the 100% optimal dark chocolate the least with sugar
- Powerful Antioxidants presence.
As listed above, some of the minerals present in dark chocolate have proven powerful antioxidant properties.
These minerals present along with polyphenols, flavanols and catechins in dark chocolate makes its consumption a source of powerful anti-oxidants to the body.
- May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO) which as a vasodilatory effect that lowers blood pressure and some effects similar to the effect of viagra.
This effect of lowering blood pressure was observed missing in some patients with high blood pressure in a study.
- Reduce Risk of cardiovascular diseases
There are some nutrients in dark chocolate which when consumed help to lower the “bad cholesterol”LDL and raise the “good cholesterol” HDL.
These antioxidants mop up the oxidizing radicals and by so protect the lipoproteins from the oxidation of lipoproteins to the “bad cholesterol” LDL.
This help maintain the percentage of lipoproteins in favour of the “good cholesterol” HDL. By implication, consuming dark chocolate is good for the heart and other cardiovascular diseases caused by high amount of LDL.
It helps you reduce the chances of the effect of clogging up the blood vessels and especially coronary heart vessels by the LDL ,which overtime leads to heart attack.
There are studies also that show the benefits of dark chocolate in reducing the chances of insulin resistance which is one of the most popular reasons for Type-2 diabetes.
- Protects Skin From excessive UV from sunlight.
This is part of the reasons why cocoa products, particularly cocoa butter, is added to skin cosmetics.
Dark chocolate, like cocoa butter, contains flavonoids which protects the skin from harmful doses of UV radiation by absorbing the UV light,acting like a bio sunscreen.
The powerful anti-oxidants in it complements the benefit to the skin by helping to protect the skin cells against premature aging caused by the radicals they mop up.
So the combined effect on the skin helps you maintain your skin tone and health.
Examples of brands of Dark chocolate
Several of the healthy brands offer really strong dark chocolate bars.
Alter Eco 90%
Lindt 90% and 99% Extra Dark.
Pure 7 100% Bar.
Pacari 100% and 101% Raw.
Vivani 92% Bar.
Giddy Yoyo Raw 100% Cacao
Examples of the Best Dark Chocolate Brands used For Baking.
Dr Oetker Extra Dark Chocolate,
Theo Chocolate Organic Pure 70%,
Dark Chocolate Bar,
Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao,
Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate Bars.
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