Dark chocolate is rich in minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. The cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which may provide several health benefits.
Ms. Shilpa Singh, Executive Nutritionist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, Vashi, said, “Chocolate is something which all of us love to have at the end of the meal or in a dessert, etc., but have you ever thought about the benefits the chocolate has for you?
Types of chocolate:
Ms. Shilpa said, there are three main types of chocolate.
- White Chocolate- It is made up of combining ingredients like milk, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter. It doesn’t contain cocoa solids.
- Milk Chocolate – It is made up of combining ingredients like milk, sugar, cocoa butter and up to 10% of cocoa solids.
- Dark Chocolate – It is made up of combining ingredients like cocoa butter, sugar, and up to 35% of cocoa solids. It is usually bitter in taste as compared to other types of chocolate.
Benefits of eating dark chocolate:
- Rich in antioxidants – Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, flavanols, etc. which fight against free radicals and prevent our cell from the damage caused by them and boost our immune system.
- Mood enhancer- Regular consumption of dark chocolate with approx. 80% of cocoa is linked with serotonin (happy hormone) release, which enhances our mood and helps in decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Good for the brain – As per one of the studies done, consumption of dark chocolate with high flavanol cocoa content has resulted in improving the blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function.
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases – As per some of the researches, eating dark chocolate can help in relaxing your arteries, leading to lower blood pressure. One of the studies observed that consumption of cocoa powder decreased the level of oxidized LDL cholesterol in men reducing the risk of heart diseases. Its regular consumption may also help in increasing the HDL (good cholesterol) in the blood.
- May protect skin from UV rays damage – The flavanols present in cocoa improve the blood flow to the skin and can protect the skin damage caused by UV rays.
- Can help in controlling cough – Theobromine is one of the chemical compounds present in cocoa, which is known to antagonize the activity of vagus nerve, which can trigger coughing fits, and hence consumption of dark chocolate helps in reducing the cough.
- Reduces the risk of Diabetes- The flavonoids present in dark chocolate were found to reduce oxidative stress, which scientists think is the primary cause of insulin resistance. By improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin, resistance is reduced and hence the risk of developing diabetes is decreased.
- Rich in Nutrients- Dark chocolate containing more than 70% of cocoa can provide good amount of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, etc.
Consumption of Dark Chocolate and Pregnancy:
Dark chocolate in a moderate amount is safe to consume during pregnancy. The compounds present in dark chocolate like polyphenols, flavanols have a number of benefits to offer to a pregnant woman.
- It helps in lowering the risk of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension.
- Helps in increasing the blood flow to the fetus.
- Good for mothers with GDM (Gestational Diabetes) – Unsweetened dark chocolate is safe to consume in GDM as it sugar-free and improves insulin sensitivity.
Note: Limit caffeine intake to not more than 200mg per day, as overconsumption of it, inhibits the absorption of the nutrients and also can cause low birth weight babies/miscarriages.
Also, excess consumption of it can lead to acidity & heartburn in pregnancy.
Recommended daily intake of Dark Chocolate:
1-2 small pcs (5-10 grams)
Remember that the key to health is moderation, so do not overdo on anything you consume.