Chocolate’s Bittersweet Truth
Benefits & limitations of eating a Dark Chocolate
A romance with chocolate is an open secret and every living soul just cannot resist its temptation. In old times where chocolate was a delicacy to be consumed only by the king and royals, today we seem fortunate to indulge ourselves to savor the magical taste of this heavenly food. Oh! let’s not forget from time to time we have been fed a good amount of information on how chocolate really benefits your health in many ways than one. While some of it might be true, let’s try analyzing the side effects of eating too much of your goody edible friend.
While dark chocolate is said to be good in comparison to white chocolate (not a chocolate at all) or milk chocolate (sugar loaded with fat), is it really a healthy option, let’s see! It is claimed that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants (how rich is a matter of debate and research), but some websites like Healthline.com in their article ‘7 proven benefits of Chocolate’ have said that eating dark chocolate may lower the risk of hypertension, diabetes, cancer or heart disease including lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). The similar views are endorsed by the Cleveland Clinic in their essay “Heart Healthy Benefits of Chocolate.”
I addition there also have been other who have claimed that regular consumption of dark chocolate lowers the risk of depression, a statement which in today’s stressful times seems like a cold pleasant breeze blowing through a desert. BBC in its report ‘Is dark chocolate really good for you?’ has mentioned how it’s the flavanols in chocolate that make it healthy rather than the chocolate itself. Further in its article BBC states the Dark side of Chocolate and goes on to add how Dark chocolate often contains cocoa butter, which is high in saturated fat and which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Keep in mind that even good things if consumed in excess proportion are hazardous to health. A limit for discretionary calories set by American Heart Association is about 100 calories a day, or one small piece of dark chocolate containing about 140 milligrams of flavanols, well below the level to consider any health benefits.
John Hopkin Institute in their article The Benefits of Having a Healthy Relationship with Chocolate has stated 6 benefits namely of eating dark chocolate;
- Increases heart health: The antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from heart disease.
- Balances the immune system: Flavonols prevent the immune system from going into overdrive and reduce oxidative stress, which is an imbalance caused by cells fighting against free radicals and a common cause of many diseases.
- Combats diabetes: Epicatechin protects cells, makes them stronger and supports the processes that help the body to use insulin better, which might prevent or combat diabetes.
- Improves brain function: Flavonols in dark chocolate have a positive impact on brain function, including better reaction time, visual-spatial awareness and stronger memory. Though research is ongoing, one reason for this may be that flavonols increase blood flow to the brain.
- Boosts athletic performance: The epicatechin in dark chocolate increases the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which supports circulation and reduces the amount of oxygen an athlete uses while engaged in moderately intense exercise. This allows the athlete to maintain workout intensity for longer.
- Reduces stress: People who ate dark chocolate reported that they felt less stressed, and researchers confirmed that after eating dark chocolate, there were reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be related to dark chocolate’s effects on heart health, since stress is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.