Chocolate tops the list of sweet products around the world. It’s consumed in the form of traditional bars, as well as in candies, cakes, ice cream, and baked goods you enjoy eating while playing at playamo.com or watching Netflix. A favorite treat for children and adults, it’s good for the heart, brain, and nervous system. But if you don’t know all the properties of the product, it can cause serious health problems.
Types of Chocolate
The main ingredients are ground cacao beans, sugar, and cocoa butter. Supplementing these ingredients with various additives, confectioners obtain four types of chocolate:
- Bitter (dark).
The creamy color is due to the absence of cocoa powder. Six ingredients in the following proportions are used for the preparation:
- Cocoa butter – from 20%.
- Sugar – 50-55%.
- Milk powder – no less than 14%.
- Milk fat – 3,5 %.
- Emulsifier (lecithin).
Due to the high fat and sugar content, the caloric content of white chocolate is higher than that of other kinds. It has fewer minerals and vitamins, as it doesn’t contain cocoa powder. The product wins in terms of vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are enriched with cocoa butter.
White chocolate with natural sweeteners is the only type allowed during pregnancy. It contains no caffeine, which is harmful to the growing fetus.
It was invented in 1875 by Swiss D. Peter and has remained the world’s most popular sweet ever since. The basis of the dessert is a classic trio: grated cacao, sugar, and cocoa butter. Milk powder is added, which gives the product a creamy taste and a delicate texture.
Compared to white chocolate, milk chocolate is considered healthier because it contains less sugar. But in terms of bioactive substances, it’s inferior to bitter chocolate.
The product offers essential health benefits:
- It produces the mood-enhancing hormones dopamine and serotonin.
- It’s a source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid.
- It enriches the body with calcium, magnesium, and iron.
- It gives vigor and energy.
This type is distinguished by the highest content of cocoa beans – from 70 to 90%. It also contains cocoa butter and sugar, but in a smaller volume than milk and white chocolate. The dessert is rich in B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and antioxidants. Dark chocolate is very nutritious but contains fewer fast carbohydrates than milk chocolate.
Cocoa bioactive substances give the treat five beneficial properties:
- Normalization of blood pressure.
- Lowering cholesterol levels.
- Stimulation of brain functions.
- Strengthening of the heart muscle.
- Weakening bronchospasms.
Abuse of bitter chocolate leads to metabolic disorders, digestive problems, and sleep disorders.
A modern alternative to the popular treat is made from carob pods. The flesh of the fruit is naturally sweet, so there is no need to add sugar. Carob powder resembles cacao in taste but contains no caffeine. When mixed with cocoa butter, it’s used to make sweet bars and bars.
There are different varieties of chocolate made from carob – with the addition of powdered milk, nuts, berries, and spices. They are superior to cacao-based desserts in the content of vitamins B, A, and D, but inferior in the amount of zinc and iron. Unlike cacao beans, carob does not contain oxalic acid, which causes allergies in many people.
Why Chocolate Is Good for You
Regular consumption of chocolate has serious effects on the cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems. Cocoa has been proven to contain record amounts of antioxidants. These substances slow down the premature aging of cells and neutralize oxidative stress that causes the growth of cancer cells.
The main ingredient in chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. These substances reduce harmful cholesterol levels, preventing the clogging of blood vessels with plaques. Grated cocoa increases nitric oxide levels in the blood, which leads to lower blood pressure.
Here are 5 other health benefits of cacao beans:
- Improving blood flow to the brain and activating thinking.
- Enhancing mood and relieving depression.
- Accelerated insulin production.
- Increased immunity.
- Improved skin texture.
People who consume chocolate high in cocoa are at less risk of heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
This component of cocoa beans consists of fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are especially good for the skin and digestion. Cocoa butter keeps the skin youthful by maintaining its water-fat balance. Vitamin E contained in the product supports vascular tone and prevents skin inflammation.
The Benefits of Chocolate in Pregnancy, Weight Loss, and Diabetes
A moderate amount of chocolate is safe for women with proper pregnancy. The dessert with high cocoa content improves blood flow to the fetus, which is necessary for its normal development. It’s important to observe two conditions – not to exceed the daily dosage of 28 grams and to consume chocolate with low caffeine content.
For weight loss programs, bitter chocolate is recommended. It’s less caloric than other varieties and effectively dulls hunger. Besides, a treat with high cocoa content relieves the stress inevitable during dieting.
For people suffering from diabetes, cocoa is useful, but ordinary varieties of chocolate are contraindicated. Doctors recommend treats based on natural sweeteners that do not affect blood sugar levels – stevia, topinambur syrup.
How Is Chocolate Harmful?
A delicious treat turns into an enemy of health in two cases – if you abuse the product or buy low-quality products. Chocolate is a caloric dessert, high in fat and fast carbohydrates. Excessive dosage leads to obesity, metabolic disorders, and the development of acne.
Caffeine in chocolate causes insomnia in adults and hyperexcitability in children. Disturbing the acid balance in the mouth, chocolate harms teeth and gums. Cocoa powder often causes allergic reactions.
To give the chocolate bars a dense texture and smoothness, manufacturers include an emulsifier – lecithin. This is a product of processing various oil-bearing plants – soybeans, and sunflowers. Even a high-quality emulsifier is considered superfluous in the dessert recipe. If a cheap substitute is added, chocolate can become a source of allergies.