Chocolate | The New Superfood
Chocolate, which is part of the human diet in as early as 2000 BC, is now on the list of phytonutrients-rich foods that when consumed on moderate amount, provides protection against several diseases.
Chocoholics, rejoice! Did you know that the world's most favorite dessert is now considered as a superfood!? Many experts on nutritional science and medical field may have to agree on this since there have been numerous studies about its benefits.
Chocolate is the product of fermented cacao seeds that is processed by drying and roasting to develop its unique bitter-sweet flavor. There are three by-products from these processes that make our favorite blocks of sumptuous sweets.
First are the cocoa nibs - made from the shell of the seeds that when removed, the cocoa mass is exposed and when this is liquefied and cooled, will give us the second and third by-product which are the cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
There are several types of chocolates, namely: milk chocolate, white chocolate, sweet chocolate and dark chocolate. In other cuisines, the types of chocolates are not limited to these. There are truffle chocolates, choco liquers and so on. But what we consider as superfood is the DARK CHOCOLATE!
What is dark chocolate and why is it considered as beneficial to our health?
Dark chocolate is made when the cocoa solids (on higher portion) and cocoa butter are combined with sugar. Some chocolate manufacturers defined the percentage of cocoa solids at 70%-80% and are a lot more bitter than the usual chocolate. An ounce (less than 30 grams) of dark chocolate (1 or 2 squares) may range from 150-170 calories. It is considered as calorie dense food and contains relatively higher saturated fat. But its cocoa flavanols overturn the effect of this. Flavanols are phytonutrient compounds that are found in several food items that have positive effect on our health. The same compound is found in wines and green tea that decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing inflammation and lowering the blood pressure of those who consume it regularly. It is also effective in increasing insulin sensitivity thus lowering the risk of developing diabetes.
In some studies, it is also found to be beneficial to pregnant women who consume chocolate as part of their diet since their babies are happier compared to those who avoided consumption of chocolate during pregnancy. What a joy to have happy babies, right?
The positive effects of consuming dark chocolates are not limit to the prevention of diseases. It also aids in the mental health of an individual. It has positive effects on stress hormone regulation and cognitive functions in the brain, as seen on the study of people in the 70-year-old age group who consumes more chocolate, wine, almonds, vegetables and tea as part of their daily diet.
Chocolates, dark chocolate, that is, combined with other rich-in-phytonutrient foods such as almonds, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, plus moderate physical activities raise its value as superfood. One should always remember that no single food could ever provide the powers to ultimate protection against diseases.
Eating with variety of foods in moderation is just one of the key factors to keeping it healthy inside and out!