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Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

Dark chocolate is considered as the healthiest of the chocolates boasting of innumerable health benefits. Dark chocolate is made from raw cacao beans. Cacao beans contain a high amount of flavanols. 

Dark chocolate primarily contains cocoa. It contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and fibre. Dark chocolate is good for health as it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants but, they should be consumed in moderation. The darker the chocolate, the better it is to be consumed as it is less-processed and contains low added sugar. 

Ideally, dark chocolate does not contain milk but, then there can be traces of milk due to cross-contamination during processing.

Nutritional Value

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and dietary minerals. A 101gm bar of dark chocolate contains 604 calories, 46.36 gm of carbohydrates, 43.06 gm of fat, 24.23 gm of sugar, 11 gm of dietary fiber, 7.87 gm of protein, 230 mg of magnesium, 12.02 mg of iron, and 3.34 mg of zinc. It also contains abundant selenium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Possible Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate…

1/5. Reduces blood pressure

Flavanols present in dark chocolate increases nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps dilate the blood vessels thereby, reducing the blood pressure. The high magnesium supply in dark chocolate aids in reducing blood pressure.

2/5. Reduces risk to cancer

1. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa offer dark chocolate with an anti-cancer effect. It prevents the invasion of cancer agents by keeping the free radicals at bay.

2. Flavonoids such as epicatechin and quercetin present in dark chocolate are responsible for the cancer-fighting effects.

3/5. Improves heart health

1. Dark chocolate promotes heart health by restoring flexibility to the arteries and by preventing the sticking of white blood cells to the walls of the blood vessels. 

2. The flavonoids present in dark chocolate maintain heart health, they help keep the arteries and veins supple.

3. Antioxidants present in dark chocolate, reduce bad cholesterol, and increases good cholesterol thus, regulating the blood cholesterol levels. Regulation of blood cholesterol levels prevents heart attack diseases.

4. The bioactive components of cocoa enhance the blood flow in the arteries. 

5. Consuming a substantial amount of chocolate daily may reduce cardiovascular diseases and stroke risk.

4/5. Improves brain function

1. Dark chocolate enhances brain function and helps prevent neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

2. The flavanols in dark chocolate boost neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself, especially in response to injury and disease.

3. The high levels of flavonoids in dark chocolate enhance blood flow to the brain thus, improving brain function. Dark chocolate improves cognition, boosts mood, and prevents memory loss.

4. Dark chocolate stimulates the neural activity in areas of the brain linked with pleasure and reward thus, reducing stress and improving mood. The cocoa polyphenols have a beneficial effect on the mood.

5/5. Other possible benefits…

Dark Chocolate further provides few more health benefits namely, lowers cholesterol, improves visual acuity, protects the skin, promotes anti-inflammatory functions in the body, regulates blood sugar, reduces pregnancy complications, decreases food cravings, calms a troublesome cough, prevents blood clotting, improves blood circulation, reduces fatigue, helps lower body mass index, promotes weight loss, protects the skin from the sun and prevents depression.

Dark Chocoate, without sugar/milk, is probabily the best source of antioxidants.

How to use Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate can be used in several different ways, some of which are as follows:

  • Eat it straight
  • Grate over oatmeal
  • Make hot chocolate
  • Make chocolate cake
  • Make chocolate bark
  • Bake choco chip cookies
  • Make chocolate ganache
  • Make chocolate ice cream
  • Make chocolate coated pretzels
  • Bake double chocolate brownies
  • Make homemade chocolate bars
  • Mix into frozen banana ice cream
  • Grate chocolate and add to yoghurt
  • Garnish a fruit plate with chocolate curls 
  • Muffins with fruit and nuts for breakfast 
  • Melt chocolate and swirl through ice cream

How to make Hot Cocoa?

Take 2/3 cup whipping cream, 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate candy bar, ½ cup milk, 3 tablespoons sugar & 1 cinnamon stick in a pan and heat it over medium heat.

Heat the mixture till the mixture comes to a boil. Stir constantly. 

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Remove the cinnamon stick and if required stir in cinnamon whiskey.

Pour the mixture into mugs. Serve it.

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