Chocolate is a food that transcends politics, sports, and culture across nations. It can help put aside differences and bring people from all walks of life together.
But did you know that chocolate has been bringing people together for over 4,000 years? The earliest account of chocolate consumption goes back to 1,900 B.C. in the Early Formative period. Ancient ceramic containers holding cacao residue were discovered at the El Manati archaeological site in Veracruz, Mexico.
Today, chocolate is a $50 billion industry, and is sold all over the world. Its unique flavor simply can’t be found in any other treat. But if there’s one kind chocolate you should be eating, it should be dark chocolate.
I recommend eating dark chocolate because of the many health benefits it provides. The processed chocolate bars most people are used to eating are actually unhealthy and contain very little nutrients.
What makes dark chocolate superior to other forms of chocolate anyway?
Dark Chocolate: One Chocolate to Rule Them All
The answer lies in the cacao percentage. Dark chocolate contains a high percentage of cacao. Cacao contains almost 400 varieties of polyphenol, which provides various health benefits. The same polyphenols found in cacao are also the reason for its bitter flavor. The higher the polyphenol varieties found, the more bitter the taste.
In contrast, the chocolate you’re used to eating gets its sweet flavor mainly from pasteurized milk and sugar. As you know, too much sugar in your system can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The milk can also interfere with the digestion of little nutrients that are left in the cacao. It goes without saying that processed chocolate also has very little healthy cacao involved.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Now that we’ve established that polyphenols are found in chocolate, let’s look at the important benefits they can do for you:
- Type 2 diabetes maintenance: dark chocolate can help stabilize your blood sugar and fat metabolism, resulting in reduced insulin resistance.
- Brain health: epicatechin found in dark chocolate can protect your brain by moderating inflammation in your central nervous system, resulting in lowered chances for stroke.
- Heart health: dark chocolate can help lower your risk of heart attack by reducing the clumping of platelets in your arteries and veins.
- Mood enhancer: polyphenols found in dark chocolate can also help reduce anxiety and depression.
Choosing the Best Chocolate to Purchase
Doctors now recommend purchasing dark chocolate with high cocoa percentage, preferably at 70 percent. If you want 100 percent of the benefits, eating raw cacao nibs is an option.
When it comes to frequency of chocolate consumption, two to three times a day is optimal to keep cacao nutrients in the bloodstream. However, make sure that you’re consuming high-quality dark chocolate, and that you don’t go overboard in terms of quantity.
I understand that the taste of raw cacao nibs may not appeal to everyone. That being said, you can look for chocolate that’s minimally processed as possible. That’s because the closer chocolate is to its natural state, the more benefits you can gain. Try to strike a balance between nutrition and taste.
Important Things to Remember Regarding Chocolate
- Dark chocolate is a healthier option because it contains more cacao
- Cacao nibs offer maximum health benefits because they are not processed at all
- Processed milk chocolate contains plenty of sugar, which is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease
- Consuming small chocolate at frequent intervals to ensure the nutrients are constantly in your bloodstream
Take your time reading the information above so you can understand the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you’re not a chocolate lover, now is the perfect time to start becoming one.