While chocolate is regularly eaten for the pleasure, recent studies show there are potential positive health effects of chocolate use. However, only dark chocolate has such an effect on our bodies while the other types of chocolate, being that it's an energy-rich food, increase the risk of becoming overweight causing a great number of health problems and conditions.
Dark chocolate and high blood pressure
Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, but only if the patient maintains a calorie balance in the diet. Increased consumption of dark chocolate calls for eating less of other energy-rich foods. Dark chocolate has a very high cacao level reaching from 60 percent to more than 75 percent. A substance called epicatechin, present in cocoa, helps modestly reduce blood pressure due to the daily consuming diet. Studies show that consuming dark chocolate lowers the chances of a heart attack and even lowers the risk of death in patients that already survived a heart attack. Furthermore, results show no changes in cholesterol level in patients that used dark chocolate in large amounts. It may even help with food cravings for those who want to lose some weight.
Antioxidants in chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants - chemicals that prevent the oxidation of other compounds by reducing the level of free radicals. However, if consumed with milk it may lose this significant health effect. Recent findings indicate that milk may influence negatively the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate and thus eliminate positive effects of dark chocolate consumption.
There are many short term studies on dark chocolate consumption and its possible benefits on humans. Evidence from these studies show promising findings. However, long-term studies are necessary to determine possible positive effects in the prevention of chronic diseases.
One of the most promising studies has found a significant
drop in blood pressure in patients who treated themselves toone 100-gram dark
chocolate bar a day. Their health improved notably over a two-week period.
What kind of chocolate to choose?
Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa phenols. Plant phenols, rich antioxidants, such as those found in apples, onions, soybeans, blueberries, cranberries, green and black tea and red wine. The higher the concentration of cocoa, the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants in the product. Chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa solids might be a good choice. Eating more dark chocolate can have great health effects but only while balancing the extra calories and eating less of other things.