Dark chocolate nutrition can be the best friend of those who love dessert, but without forgetting their health.
Rich in nutrients and flavor, this food is good for the body and for the palate. Check out a little more about the history of this ancient ingredient, understand what benefits it provides and the suggested amounts for daily consumption.
Although there is no standard or legislation for this type of product, the consensus is that to be considered dark, the product must have at least 70% cocoa in its formula (although some manufacturers start to consider this version from 50 %).
The product is made with roasted cocoa beans, little sugar and, preferably, no milk. The more cocoa, the lower the sugar content in its formulation. The purity of the bar varies a lot, but there are options on the market with up to 99% cocoa in its composition.
This type is closer to the taste of the food in its Aztec origin. The bitter drink consumed by these peoples — xocolatl, which means bitter water — gave rise to the cocoa mix that is so popular today.
In general, the creation of this coveted delicacy begins when the cocoa fruits are removed and the seeds are broken. That's because it's the base substrate for it, but at this point, they're still pretty bitter.
In the production process of semisweet and milk versions, the recipe gains doses of sugar and milk. In addition, cocoa roasting also influences the taste of the final product, as in different kinds of coffees.
Generally, the bitter categories are roasted at different temperatures, so that the bitterness is more pronounced in the final product. In fact, one of the countries that stands out as a cocoa producer is Brazil due to its tropical climate, having ideal environments for its cultivation.
The higher the cocoa content in the product, the purer it is. Thus, it has a smaller amount or even free of sugar and a greater amount of nutrients and compounds beneficial to health.
Dark chocolate nutrition facts
Here are some facts you should know. Cocoa is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances such as phenolic compounds, catechins and procyanidins. It is a rich source of minerals such as copper, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Selenium and potassium, for example, are also present in smaller amounts. Researches indicate that, among the positive aspects of consuming the dark version of this product, are: improvement in oxidative stress, memory, mood and immunity.
The cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular systems are also benefited. Therefore, it is recommended to consume one serving daily to ensure the health benefits listed below:
- Promotes appetite reduction and may help with weight management - promoting the feeling of satiety is one of the benefits of this food, precisely because of its effect on digestion.
They can also help improve insulin resistance, especially in patients with obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Thus, by regulating blood glucose levels, it prevents the excessive release of insulin, a hormone related, among other functions, to the accumulation of abdominal fat.
- Good for the heart - Studies show some benefits caused to the organ. First, consuming the dark version twice a week is enough to reduce the risk of death from heart-related diseases, such as a heart attack.
Second, because it is rich in catechins and procyanidins, antioxidant substances, they contribute to reducing oxidative stress and improving internal antioxidant defense, reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis, for example.
It can also help in the treatment of high blood pressure, probably by two mechanisms: cocoa seems to improve the bioavailability of a substance called nitric oxide (vasodilator) and can inhibit an enzyme responsible for increasing this pressure.
In addition, eating bars with high cocoa content may help increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce bad cholesterol (LDL). As a cardio protectant, it also decreases the risk of platelet aggregation in the arteries and thus the formation of clots.
- Rich in antioxidants - The dark version is one of the foods with the highest antioxidant potential. It has higher rates than açaí and blueberry, for example.
Thus, it fights free radicals and oxidative stress, as mentioned above. Among the benefits listed, it can decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems, in addition to preventing premature cellular aging.
- Promotes a sense of well-being - One of the most well-known benefits of this product is the ability to release substances that increase the feeling of well-being.
On the list are: endorphin, which eases stress, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that calms and can improve symptoms of depression.
Cocoa also has a substance called anandamide (in small amounts), which can act in areas of our brain that regulate functions such as pain, anxiety, mood, memory and appetite control. It is an endorphin also produced by our body in situations of happiness, which is why it is called the “happiness substance”.
With so many benefits, is it possible to consume this product at will? Unfortunately, to maintain its beneficial properties, you need to eat in moderation. After all, as our grandparents would say, everything which is over is not good, right?
This type of delicacy, even though it is healthier, is still a rich source of calories and saturated fat. If consumed in excess, it can have an adverse health effect.
The recommended daily portion is 25g to 30g maximum. This amount is more than enough for you to get all the benefits, without unbalancing your diet or ingesting too many calories in your diet.
One of the main problems of excessive consumption of it is overweight. Added to the amounts of sugar, it can raise cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
In some people like us who are more sensitive to caffeine, for example, this product can still cause a headache, as it is rich in vasoactive amines, which cause dilation of cerebral veins.
And finally, excess consumption can increase the propensity for kidney stones because the food is rich in oxalate.
So, just manage the dose and remember that, to keep your health up to date, you need to invest in a balanced diet, practice physical exercises, have a restful sleep routine, among other balanced habits. When in doubt, consult a nutritionist.
Do you find it difficult to replace traditional kinds with the dark version? Know that this uncomfortable feeling is totally normal at the beginning of the process, depending on our eating habits.
If for many years your palate has been accustomed to extreme sweet(literally!) flavor of the white and milk versions, and other variations rich in a lot of sugars and fats, it is natural that you will find it difficult to eat the dark one.
The good news is that it is possible to do this implementation through 3 simple and infallible tips to “train” your taste buds.
By following them, after a certain period you will get used to the new flavor and, even more: you will truly feel the taste of the delicacy and you will be able to enjoy all the benefits that this product rich in cocoa brings to your health.
Well, now that we know that everything is a matter of habit and that taste is something “trainable”, let's get to the practical part:
Start slowly, gradually, choosing options with 40% cocoa in the composition first, then 50%, 60%, 70%, and so on for 75-80%.
Taste about 10 times the food to give your taste buds a chance to get used to it. Don't give up at first. Having patience with yourself and the process of adapting your taste buds is the key.
Taste slowly, feel melt in your mouth and enjoy each piece. Thus, the perception of the experience and satisfaction when eating will be greater, and the nuances of flavors and textures will be perceived more, which may help you to like the new version you are trying on.
Remember that this product has many health benefits. It is rich in flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant substance, which is another great reason for you to make this smart substitution.
Among other positive points already highlighted above such as:
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer;
- Decrease in bad cholesterol and blood pressure (if associated with an adequate diet);
- Elevated mood and feeling of well-being, as the dark type helps release the hormone “serotonin”.
The more concentrated in cocoa, the less amount of sugar and fat, therefore, the healthier it will be. It is always worth remembering that everything in excess is not recommended.
So, use common sense and balance when including it in your routine. The usually recommended amount is around 20 grams/day, depending on the history and objective.
However, the process needs to be individualized. Consume in moderation and wisdom, and feel the difference in health and taste.
Behavioral nutrition and changing your relationship with food is the best “diet” to lose weight and improve your health.
Nutritional value of dark chocolate
Flavonoids, especially epicatechin, are the most important substances that give nutritional value. They are present in cocoa almond powder and are a powerful antioxidant, that is, they act by fighting free radicals present in the body.
It may help preventing cancer, and can lower bad cholesterol, LDL, and blood pressure. They also help to decrease the chances of strokes, improve the skin and protect the brain.
It has caffeine which is a central nervous system stimulant, improving concentration and energy. It also has a thermogenic effect, contributing to weight loss.
This food also has good amounts of magnesium, which is important for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and helps to prevent the formation of kidney and gallbladder stones.
Iron is found in it as well, and it is important to prevent anemia. Moreover, it contains fiber, a substance that helps to improve intestinal transit.
Check out what percentage of the Daily Value* of some nutrients.
The recommended serving of dark chocolate, 30 grams, carries:
• 33% saturated fat
• 26% magnesium
• 25.5% iron
• 23.3% of total fat
• 13.2% fiber
• 13.2% phosphorus
• 4.7% protein.
*Reference Daily Values for adults based on a 2000kcal or 8400kJ diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs.
Dark chocolate nutrition can be just what you are looking for to help you to have a tasty and health diet.