Here are eight superb reasons why dark chocolate is so wholesome for you
Chocolate makes you happy, it makes you addicted, chocolate makes you fat, it protects against cancer, chocolate causes pimples… There is a lot of disagreement about chocolate, many myths and untruths. Today I want to explain to you why dark chocolate is healthy – seriously!
The difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate
Today it’s all about the health effects of dark chocolate, especially those of the variant with at least 85% cocoa. Naturally, we cannot label classic milk chocolate with plenty of sugar, skimmed milk powder and artificial flavors as healthy.
Why is dark chocolate or pure cocoa healthy at all?
We can attribute most of the criticisms of chocolate to the high sugar content. However, dark chocolate with at least 85% cocoa contains very little, if any, added sugar.
But why should that make it healthy?
As you probably know, chocolate is made from the cocoa bean. This is a large, approximately 2-pound fruit with a light pulp and seeds. Harvesters break the fruit open and roughly chop it. Afterward, the farmers put the gathered seeds in the sun for a few days, so they can dry.
Since cocoa grows in the tropics, the kernels dry fairly quickly. Lactic acid bacteria, which live naturally on the cocoa fruit, ferment the cocoa beans and produce the typical taste.
Most people don’t even know that cocoa powder is a fermented product and tastes very different when raw. Similar to coffee.
Cocoa contains a wide range of nutrients and especially many polyphenols (antioxidants). These antioxidants counteract numerous chronic problems in the body, especially oxidative stress and inflammation.
Fermentation makes these polyphenols more bioactive. This means that your body can absorb them more easily.
In this respect, cocoa powder is a biological upgrade compared to the raw product. This is also the basis for chocolate being so healthy.
Coffee and cocoa – underrated health workers
Did you know that coffee and cocoa (especially raw cocoa) are the most important sources of antioxidants in our diet? Interestingly, coffee ranks number one on the list of foods that make up the most antioxidants in our diet.
Now, of course, one could argue that this speaks more against our normal diet. However, we think that also speaks for the coffee. And of course for cocoa, too; more on that in a moment.
It is important that we consume both products with as little sugar and additives as possible. One cannot compare a cup of freshly brewed black coffee or dark drinking chocolate to coffee with milk and sugar or a bar of whole milk chocolate for 99 cents.
Quality should always come before quantity. Inferior quality coffee and cocoa can contain mold and mold is known to be poison.
These so-called mycotoxins (fungal toxins) attack immune cells and make your body susceptible to infections and autoimmune diseases (see Everything You Should Know About Autoimmune Disease).
They also sustainably damage the cell power plants in every body cell, the so-called mitochondria. And you want to prevent that at all costs!
So you’d better spend an extra dollar on high-quality coffee and cocoa and consume a little less.
Chocolate makes you happy – what’s with this?
There has been so much argument, laughing and crying about this claim – but what is the truth?
Chocolate is said to contain small amounts (especially dark chocolate) of dopamine and serotonin (two happiness hormones). The body absorbs them, they migrate to the brain and make you happy.
Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you: This claim is simply not true! Even if coffee contained happiness hormones in small amounts, these small amounts could hardly penetrate into the brain and then work from there.
The usual whole milk chocolate is what makes you happy because of the sugar content. It is known that high sugar consumption provides a decent boost of dopamine in the brain for a short time.
That makes you happy in the short term, but addictive in the long run. This is sugar from its acidic side.
But now we still have a ray of hope for you: Because dark chocolate can actually make you happy. How?
Cocoa powder, highly concentrated in dark chocolate, contains not only anti-inflammatory polyphenols. It also contains substances that inhibit enzymes that break down the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan is the basic substance from which the brain later creates serotonin. So more tryptophan in the blood means a higher serotonin production in the brain.
However, we can only accredit this effect to dark chocolate
And between us: Dark chocolate alone makes you happy because of its good taste.
So now we know that chocolate makes you happy, but how healthy is it really?
Eight reasons to show why dark chocolate and cocoa are so healthy
1. Dark chocolate lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Chronic inflammation is a key cause of numerous cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, arteriosclerosis and more.
Dark chocolate contains such a large amount of bioactive antioxidants that the body can counteract chronic inflammation if you enjoy dark chocolate regularly.
2. Dark chocolate protects the skin from the sun’s rays
This point is particularly important in summer. Because the polyphenols from dark chocolate preferentially store themselves in the skin and intercept harmful free radicals.
These arise when UV rays are irradiated. You can protect your skin through nutrition in several ways – dark chocolate is one of them.
3. Dark chocolate lowers harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
The liver produces significantly less harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides when we consume dark chocolate regularly.
This also attributes to the reduction of inflammation in the body, and it adds to a favorable rearrangement of liver metabolism.
4. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity
When inflammation in the body decreases, insulin metabolism also works better. The insulin reaches the cells more efficiently, can dock there to the insulin receptor and the sugar gets into the cells more orderly.
Chronic inflammation causes dree radicals, which are a proven risk factor for high blood pressure. The enzyme that lowers blood pressure (eNOS) and widens blood vessels only works if free radicals do not bother it.
5. Dark chocolate may prevent cancer
The American Cancer Institute has said that the powerful and numerous antioxidants in dark chocolate could help prevent cancer.
Cancer loves an inflamed environment. It thrives splendidly when the body suffers from inflammation and the immune system does not defend itself as strongly.
6. Dark chocolate improves mental performance
Because of the points mentioned above and because polyphenols cross the blood-brain barrier even in small amounts (they can act in the brain), this can, furthermore, increase the thinking power.
This is especially true for people who are no longer so clear in their minds due to numerous ailments that have accumulated over the course of their lives: people over 70, to be precise. You benefit most from the regular enjoyment of dark chocolate at this age.
7. Cocoa has a higher ORAC than most superfoods
You’ve probably heard the term superfood before. These are foods that contain a particularly large number of nutrients and antioxidants. The ORAC value measures how antioxidant a portion of food is.
Cocoa has a higher ORAC value than most known superfoods (moringa, acai, acerola cherry, etc.) and is actually the ultimate superfood. Raw cocoa is much better than normal cocoa here.
8. The gut is happy!
Many people suffer from chronic bowel diseases such as SIBO, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
What they have in common is that inflammation prevails in the intestine and the intestinal cells lack important nutrients. Dark chocolate helps in two ways:
The polyphenols reduce inflammation, also in the intestine, and are an important source of nutrients for the intestinal bacteria.
More specifically, a growth factor. In this way, regular chocolate consumption can also help with chronic bowel diseases.
Does dark chocolate help with autoimmune diseases?
The extent to which cocoa and dark chocolate have a positive effect on autoimmune diseases is not known from studies. In principle, cocoa should have a positive effect on autoimmune diseases (see best diets to help combat autoimmune diseases) thanks to the polyphenols it contains.
However, cocoa, and dark chocolate, also contain phytic acid, omega-6 fatty acids and caffeine in significant amounts.
Here you should first test and observe how your body tolerates dark chocolate and cocoa. The metabolism of people with an autoimmune disorder is a little different and you may be sensitive here.
If you are currently on the Paleo diet, a diet especially great for people with autoimmune disorders, you should avoid chocolate.
Because refraining from the substances mentioned (phytic acid and omega-6 fats) is a central part of this diet. It has already had very positive results in autoimmune patients.
I cannot prescribe anything to you! I can only name and weigh up advantages and disadvantages. In the end, you have to decide for yourself.
The only group of people who should definitely stay away from chocolate are people with histamine intolerance. How common histamine intolerance is among autoimmune sufferers is not known.
An occasional enjoyment of dark chocolate (at least 85% cocoa) with little added sugar and in high quality enriches a healthy diet.
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