Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate

Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate

Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate

All that's dark are not evil: Dark chocolate strikes the contrast as a healthy option.

The sweet reality

From a high blood pressure to inexorable heart diseases, the pejorative exclamation of one size fits all takes a new approach; grab some dark chocolate and there you are, already feeling better. High levels of cocoa phenols do the trick.

In fact, any plant phenol is known to lower blood pressure; cocoa phenols do it slightly better. European chocolates are higher in their phenol content compared to their U.S. counterparts, which are higher in calories. This brings in the subject of balancing calories; thus, anyone being an aspirant for going all-choco and planning to replace healthy foods with chocolate, better checks out - it’s only some chocolate that is good.

Dark Chocolate: Its effects on high blood pressure

This is not going to be sweet for them with an affinity for white or milk chocolates; only dark chocolates – as stated by The Journal of the American Medical Association – have the power to cut hypertension down. But then again, this is no freehand been given to indulge into the dark fantasies; dark chocolate helps lowering blood pressure only if a person is of (or above) a certain age and suffering from moderately high blood pressure. Thus, it is more of a preventive measure than being curative and for those who are obese, opting for dark chocolate is straightaway curbing out on a lot of other food items. Needless saying, that’s to keep calorie intake under check.

It’s primarily because there are antioxidants in dark chocolate but follow it up with milk -that’s the end to all its potential health benefits. Milk has this tendency to spoil everything and stop those antioxidants from being absorbed into the body. Evident from a study (also published in The Journal of the American Medical Association) run on six men and seven women (aged 55-64 years) and suffering from moderately high blood pressure (systolic 153 and diastolic 84), the study observed the effects of 100-grams of chocolate (both white and dark) while curbing down on their calorie intake through other foods. With dark chocolate consumption, a significant drop in blood pressure was noticed (5 points for systolic, 2 points for diastolic; approx.) among them who received the dark variety. Consumption of white chocolate did not produce this effect.

Another study that served as a follow-up to this took under consideration a lower age group, which was between 25 years and 35 years). Half of the subjects were also given small amounts of whole milk, which, an hour later, resulted in negligible counts of epicatechin (a flavonoid serves the purpose of the plants’ pigment) levels in their blood while for dark chocolate eaters, it was just the opposite. The blood pressure also reduced due to the production of nitric oxide, which brings vasodilation and also balances a few hormones in the body. As for the rest of the effects of dark chocolate, it:

  • Lowers LDL - the bad cholesterol - as much as by 10 percent of its total amount.
  • Stimulates the production of endorphin, bringing an euphoric effect.
  • Gives extra serotonin to the body to elevate mood.
  • Comprises toxins like theobromine and caffeine, which stimulate in moderate doses.

Chewing some old fat

Often the question comes up if chocolates have fats (oleic acid, stearic and palmitic acids) that bring harmful impacts. To answer honestly, dark chocolates do not impact negatively the good cholesterol since Oleic Acid is a monounsaturated fat; stearic acid is neutral while palmitic Acid is again another saturated fat.

Setting the doses (and a few other guidelines)

  • Avoid eating a pound of it every day; have a tenth of that.
  • Balance calories. 100 grams of dark chocolate is around 400 calories so avoid getting the extra 400 from other foods for the time being.
  • Hot chocolate just tastes nice; it really doesn’t serve any of the real purposes.
  • Nougat is not dark chocolate. Therefore, while dark chocolate with nuts and fruits are still okay, caramel and nougat are not and are essentially sugar and fat.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad