Is Dark Chocolate All That?

OK! So lets talk Dark Chocolate.

Is it really a superfood, should you incorporate it into your diet?

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits | Is Dark Chocolate Healthy ?
Well I have read numerous articles and done plenty of research to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

In all reality, cocoa the product that makes chocolate comes with many health benefits, and the more cocoa solids in your bar of chocolate the better.

So what is dark chocolate? Well in the UK, if your bar of chocolate contains over 50% cocoa solids, it can be branded as dark chocolate, anything below that percentage and you have your ordinary milk chocolate.

Cocoa is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains the antioxidants catechins and procyanidins. Studies on the Kuna Indians of Panama, who drank cocoa as their main beverage, showed that daily cocoa intake helped in lowering blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.

When cocoa is processed to make your favourite chocolate bar, many of the nutrients are destroyed. In order to ensure that the chocolate you buy still retains the numerous health benefits, make sure that the percent of cocoa solids is higher that 70% and has as little sugar as possible. As I said earlier the more cocoa solids in your bar of chocolate the more health benefits you get. I usually go for 85% and above.

Let us take a look at the benefits of dark chocolate?

It Can Lower Body Mass Index (BMI)

Studies show that those who ate 25g of dark chocolate twice a week and exercised around 3 and a half times a week, had a considerable reduction in their BMI.

It Boosts Brain Power and Improves Eyesight

Eating dark chocolate can in fact give your brain a short-term boost that can last for at least three hours. This boost comes down to a component that is also rich in blueberries and green tea, ‘Flavanols’. Flavanols help dilate blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and blood to reach key areas of the brain as well as your retina, which can help with exhaustion and visual performance.

It Protects you from the Sun

The flavanols found in cocoa can help in preventing damage from ultraviolet rays, the light emitted by the sun.

It Reduces Inflammation and Boosts your Immune System

When dark chocolate is digested, the good microbes in your gut can help in salvaging all the anti-inflammatory compounds that are created, these compounds are good for your heart. Furthermore, the antioxidants and fiber that is present in cocoa are not fully digested until it reaches the colon, where these compounds are absorbed into your body. Cocoa is also known to have a positive effect on the lymphoid tissues, helping coordinate immune responses by producing cells more effectively, in turn leading to a better defense against diseases.

It Contains Heaps of Nutritional Goodness

Besides antioxidants, cocoa also contains main good dietary minerals and vitamins. Half a cup of raw cocoa contains:

  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids, 378mg
  • Theobromine, 880 mg
  • Caffeine, 99 mg
  • Fiber, 11g
  • Riboflavin, 6% of your daily value
  • Iron, 33% of your daily value
  • Zinc, 40% of your daily value
  • Manganese, 83% of your daily value
  • Magnesium, 53% of your daily value
  • Niacin, 4% of your daily value
  • Calcium, 5% of your daily value
  • Phosphorous, 30% of your daily value
  • Copper, 80% of your daily value

It Lowers Blood Pressure and Increases Good Cholesterol (HDL)

Studies show that those who ate around 6g of dark chocolate daily, had lower blood pressure and increased good cholesterol. This is due to the polyphenols present in cococa, which help with circulation and the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

So in summary, there is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide a multitude of health benefits. However, this does not mean that we should go overboard and consumer a cartload of chocolate daily. Like all other foods, chocolate is still loaded with calories and is extremely easy to over indulge. It is recommended that we eat around 25g of dark chocolate daily.

When it comes to buying dark chocolate, you need to ensure that the product you buy is of great quality. I usually go for 85% cocoa solids and above. Here is a list of all the dark chocolates I have tried and tested, with my most favourable at number one.

  1. Michel Cluizel – Grand Noir 85%, Dark Chocolate Bar

Price: Expensive (£4.25)

Taste: Moderate (quite bitter and leaves a weird aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 150 kcal; Fats: 12.6g, [of which Saturates]: 7.8g; Carbohydrates: 3.6g, [of which Sugars]: 3.6g; Protein: 2.4g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Cane Sugar, Bourbon Vanilla Pod

  1. Tesco – 85% Cocoa, Plain Chocolate Bar

Price: Affordable (£1.00)

Taste: Moderate (very bitter, leaves a weird aftertaste and quite hard to bite into)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 146 kcal; Fats: 11.8g, [of which Saturates]: 7.3g; Carbohydrates: 5.5g, [of which Sugars]: 3.8g; Fiber: 3.7g; Protein: 2.8g; Salt: 3mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Flavouring

  1. Cavalier – Fairtrade, Dark 80% Cocoa with Stevia

Price: Reasonable (£1.79)

Taste: Moderate (very sweet and leaves a weird bitter and acidic aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 108 kcal; Fats: 8.7g, [of which Saturates]: 5.5g; Carbohydrates: 4.7g, [of which Sugars]: 0.8g; Fiber: 8.7g; Protein: 1.3g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (80%), Cocoa Butter, Sweeteners: Erythritol, Steviol Glycosides, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavouring , Alimentary Fiber: Dextrin, Inulin, Oligofructose

  1. Divine – Fairtrade, 85% Dark Chocolate

Price: Expensive (£2.20)

Taste: Moderate (quite bitter and leaves a weird aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 152 kcal; Fats: 12.7g, [of which Saturates]: 8g; Carbohydrates: 5.6g, [of which Sugars]: 3.4g; Fiber: 3.5g; Protein: 2.2g; Salt: 3mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin, Vanilla Extract

  1. Tesco – Finest Swiss 85% Dark Chocolate Bar

Price: Reasonable (£1.50)

Taste: Moderate (pretty good, not as bitter as other bars and leaves a subtle aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 151 kcal; Fats: 12.7g, [of which Saturates]: 7.6g; Carbohydrates: 4.6g, [of which Sugars]: 3.2g; Fiber: 3.9g; Protein: 2.7g; Salt: 3mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Natural Vanilla Flavouring

  1. Green & Black’s – Organic 85% Dark Chocolate

Price: Reasonable (£1.97)

Taste: Moderate (quite bitter and leaves a weird aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 158 kcal; Fats: 13.4g, [of which Saturates]: 8g; Carbohydrates: 5.6g, [of which Sugars]: 3.4g; Fiber: 2.9g; Protein: 2.4g; Salt: 3mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder, Raw Cane Sugar, Vanilla Extract

  1. Sainsbury’s – 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate, Taste the Difference

Price: Reasonable (£1.45)

Taste: Moderate (not as bitter and leaves a subtle aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 149 kcal; Fats: 12.9g, [of which Saturates]: 8.1g; Carbohydrates: 4.2g, [of which Sugars]: 2.6g; Fiber: 3.5g; Protein: 2.4g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Vanilla Flavouring

  1. Lindt – Excellence 85% Dark Chocolate

Price: Reasonable (£1.97)

Taste: Moderate (not as bitter, great tasting and only leaves a very mild aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 149 kcal; Fats: 12.9g, [of which Saturates]: 8.1g; Carbohydrates: 4.2g, [of which Sugars]: 2.6g; Fiber: 3.5g; Protein: 2.4g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Fat Reduced Cocoa, Demerara Sugar, Natural Bourbon Vanilla Beans

  1. Morrisons – The Best 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate

Price: Affordable (£1.34)

Taste: Moderate (pretty good, tastes amazing, not bitter at all and only leaves a very mild and subtle aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 152 kcal; Fats: 12.3g, [of which Saturates]: 7.4g; Carbohydrates: 6.5g, [of which Sugars]: 4.1g; Fiber: 2.9g; Protein: 2.3g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Cane Sugar, Milk Fat, Vanilla Flavouring

  1. Moser Roth – Privat Chocolatiers Dark 85% Cocoa

Price: Affordable (£1.26)

Taste: Moderate (pretty good, tastes amazing, does have a hint of bitterness but not too overpowering and only leaves a very mild and subtle aftertaste)

Nutritional Information (Per 25g Serving): Calories: 152 kcal; Fats: 12.8g, [of which Saturates]: 7.8g; Carbohydrates: 4.5g, [of which Sugars]: 3.5g; Fiber: 3.8g; Protein: 2.8g; Salt: 1mg

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Solids (85%), Cocoa Butter, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Vanilla Extract

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