Cocoa is the fruit that comes from the almonds of the cocoa tree, which is native to Central and South America. In this sense , chocolate is made from the pressing of the almonds of the cocoa tree.
Three main products are produced from this pressing; cocoa butter, cocoa liquor and cocoa powder. The mixture of these components produces cocoa paste, which is the basis for the manufacture of chocolate tablets.
Chocolate is not only a delicious treat, but it also provides us with beneficial nutrients for our health. Being a source of vitamins A, B, minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron. It also provides us with proteins and carbohydrates.
In this article we will talk in more depth about the benefits that chocolate brings to our health.
Nutritional properties of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is nutritionally favorable for health, since it contains flavonoids, polyphenols and catechins, which are antioxidants, it also provides us with carbohydrates and proteins, vitamins and minerals.
The fat that it contains is cocoa butter, which is composed of oleic, stearic and palmitic acid. This type of chocolate also contains amino acids such as theobromine and tryptophan.
Among the vitamins that dark chocolate gives us are vitamins A, C, E, K and those of group B, these vitamins are the essential nutrients that contribute to a healthy life.
As we know, minerals are used by the body to perform different functions, from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses.
In this case, dark chocolate provides our body with minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium , iron, potassium , calcium, zinc and copper. Along with vitamins, minerals will help the body grow, develop and stay healthy.
Our body needs calories to be able to have energy and to function properly, so that the heart and lungs do their proper function. Dark chocolate contains, per 100 grams, the amount of 570 calories.
Important: It is recommended to consume a small portion between 20 and 40 grams daily, so there is less risk of eating too many calories and not burning them properly can cause us to gain weight.
Health benefits of dark chocolate
Thanks to its multiple properties in vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, proteins and carbohydrates , it turns out to be very beneficial for the good health of our body. In fact, one of its main benefits is the contribution it has on heart and cerebrovascular health.
In the same way, its antioxidant properties are beneficial for the skin, to prevent the growth of colon cancer cells, it even helps us regulate cholesterol, since the fats that dark chocolate contains are called good fats.
Below we will talk in more detail about some of the benefits that dark chocolate brings to our health.
Improves cardiovascular health
According to studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , the content of polyphenols, which are a class of flavonoids, protect us by consuming them since they have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action in our body. (1)
Note: For that reason, daily cocoa consumption doubles the number of circulating angiogenic cells in the blood. These cells maintain and repair blood vessels, which serves to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
Reduces cholesterol levels
Once again we have that the flavonoids contained in dark chocolate are responsible for the fact that this rich food is very useful for reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL).
To highlight: On the other hand, its content of stearic acid, a fat that is of the saturated type, has a neutralizing effect on cholesterol, so harmful to blood vessels.
What makes consuming this type of chocolate in moderation helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease , since glucose levels and lipid profile are improved.
Regulates blood pressure
The flavonoid content that dark chocolate provides shows activity at the level of vascular nitric oxide and is involved in the control of blood pressure. (two)
That is why its consumption is related to the decrease in blood pressure and peripheral vasodilation, in slightly hypertensive or healthy people.
Promotes the proper functioning of the central nervous system
The alkaloids exert a tonic and diuretic action on the body, in this sense dark chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine that improves central nervous system stimulation and protects memory.
Anemia can occur in both adults and children and this is due to a lack of iron in the body.
Dark chocolate contains iron, which, when consumed gradually with a balanced diet, will help maintain optimal levels of this mineral in the body.
Increases cognitive performance
Once again, flavonoids, a natural compound present in dark chocolate, have antioxidant and neuroprotective effects, which improve cognitive performance and decrease the risk of dementia.
On the other hand, we see that this type of chocolate contains stimulating substances such as caffeine and theobromine that promote concentration. Therefore, consuming dark chocolate daily is not only a pleasure for the taste, but also very beneficial for the brain.
Contributes to weight loss
When it comes to losing weight, it is thought that chocolate, being a rich sweet treat, will do the opposite. But this happens if we consume milk chocolate, which has a high sugar content.
However, in the case of dark chocolate or bitter chocolate, it has less amount of sugar depending on how much its cocoa purity is, it is recommended that it have a minimum of 70% cocoa to make it healthier.
Tip: It is recommended to acquire a balanced diet and keep us physically active, including a daily consumption of dark chocolate, albeit in small quantities.
Fight fatigue and tiredness
Dark chocolate gives us a high percentage of energy, since it is composed of vegetable fats and sugar which in some cases is added to soften its bitterness, thanks to this it can be used by people who practice physical exercises and activities where large amounts of energy are produced . energy expenses.
Reduces stress and depression
Thanks to its theobromine content, dark chocolate has a slight stimulating effect, which can improve mood, likewise it contains an amino acid known as tryptophan, essential for the production of serotonin, which is also involved. in states of mind.
On the other hand , it is a source of vitamin B6 and magnesium, which favor the synthesis of the aforementioned neurotransmitters and as if that were not enough, this product contains phenylethylamine, a substance responsible for stimulating the part of the brain that is related to pleasure.
Provides energy and strengthens muscles
Its high magnesium content strengthens the muscles, necessary for those who regularly perform physical activity. Dark chocolate is also rich in protein and carbohydrates.
Therefore, in the same way as magnesium, it strengthens muscles and has a high energy value, which makes this food beneficial for athletes and suitable for muscle recovery.
Promotes dental health
Dark chocolate contributes to good dental health, but without forgetting that good daily hygiene must be maintained.
Due to its theobromine content, it strengthens the enamel, in the same way the antioxidants it provides reduce the production of acids caused by bacteria.
Improves skin health
Thanks to its content of the substance called lanolin, it makes dark chocolate an ally for our skin. By being used in creams applying it with massages, it helps to improve the state of the joints in those people who suffer from osteoarthritis or arthritis.
On the other hand , it has moisturizing, exfoliating and invigorating properties, so it can be used in the treatment of cellulite, dryness and blemishes on the skin, making it recover its natural glow. It also helps protect the skin from UVA rays thanks to its antioxidants.
How to consume dark chocolate?
As we could see, dark chocolate is mainly a great source of energy since for every 100 grams it provides 570 calories. Therefore , due to its high percentage of calories, it is advisable to consume it at breakfast, so that the calories will be used during the day to generate energy.
Note: There are different types of chocolate such as white, milk, pink or ruby, medium bitter and bitter or black, each with different compositions, so their health benefits vary from one to other.
The most recommended to obtain the benefits that we mentioned above is dark or bitter chocolate. Next we will tell you some alternatives to consume it.
hot dark chocolate
Hot chocolate makes us evoke a feeling of a warm hug on a rainy and cold day, or as in other countries a day with a lot of snow, since the body asks us for a hot drink.
In this case, what better than a cup of hot dark chocolate? since it contains more cocoa, which makes it much more beneficial.
- 1 teaspoon of pure cocoa powder
- 1 cup of vegetable milk
- 1 teaspoon of water
- sweetener to taste
- Place the cocoa in a small pot.
- Add the sweetener if desired, add the water and mix the three ingredients until you have something like a chocolate sauce.
- Add the milk little by little and mix well.
- Bring all the previous mixture to the fire, until it breaks the boil, without stopping mixing, so that it does not stick or spill.
- Let it rest a bit and enjoy.
dark chocolate ice cream
Ice cream is a very rich and refreshing dessert, enjoyed by both adults and children and if we add to this the beneficial contribution it can give to health, we will still enjoy this delicious dessert with even more reason.
Not only does dark chocolate help us take care of our heart, but bananas also help us protect it, in the same way it helps us prevent depression, among other benefits.
- 1 teaspoon of pure cocoa powder
- 2 frozen bananas
- Cut the frozen bananas into small slices.
- Place them in the blender or processor and add the teaspoon of pure cocoa powder, mix everything very well.
- Serve and enjoy.
dark chocolate brownies
When dieting to lose weight, the intake of sweets is usually prohibited, even if we eat a balanced diet to keep our body in good health, a low sugar intake is usually maintained.
But there are many healthy alternatives that we can enjoy and without feeling guilty about it, this recipe for Brownie with dark chocolate is a good option.
- 80g. pure cocoa powder
- 120g. oat flakes
- 110g. peanut butter
- 3 whole eggs
- 2 ripe bananas
- 100g. raw nuts
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Cinnamon to taste
- Preheat the oven to 175º C and flour a 20×20 cm square mold.
- Peel the bananas and chop them; the more ripe and soft, the sweeter the brownie will turn out. smash them with a fork.
- Then add the eggs and beat with the same fork or some rods, add the butter, cinnamon and beat until everything is mixed very well.
- Later add the sifted cocoa, oats and baking powder, mixing well, finally add the chopped walnuts, mixing with enveloping movements.
- Place the mixture in the mold and take it to the oven for about 30 or 35 minutes. Check the point by poking with a toothpick; it should come out stained, but not full of liquid mass.
- Let it rest out of the oven, and then proceed to unmold and enjoy.
- Dark chocolate is nutritionally favorable for health, since it contains flavonoids, polyphenols and catechins, which are antioxidants, it also provides us with carbohydrates and proteins, vitamins and minerals.
- Dark chocolate contains per 100 grams, 570 calories. So if you are looking to lose weight or do not want to increase, it is recommended to consume a small portion between 20 and 40 grams daily.
- Among its health benefits is improving cardiovascular health, reducing cholesterol levels, reducing stress and depression, combating fatigue and exhaustion, combating anemia, providing energy, etc.
- When it comes to losing weight, it is thought that chocolate, being a rich sweet treat, will not help your process. But we want to emphasize that this happens if we consume milk chocolate, which has a high sugar content. While dark or bitter chocolate has less of it.
- We recommend consuming a chocolate that has a minimum of 70% cocoa to make it healthier. You can consume it in the form of a hot drink, ice cream, brownie, bars, etc.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.