Chocolate comes from cocoa. a plant with high levels of minerals and antioxidants. The milk chocolate, white chocolate, semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, etc. contains cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and small quantities of cocoa. Dark chocolate is the second most popular type of chocolate. It is referred to as black or semisweet chocolate because of its deep brown color. According to FDA, dark chocolate should contain 15 percent of chocolate liquor. In the case of Belgian Dark Chocolate, there are large amounts of cocoa and less sugar than milk chocolate.
The nutritious Belgian Dark Chocolate is full of fiber and healthy minerals. It contains Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Selenium. Cocoa contains caffeine. The amount of caffeine in cocoa is not enough to keep you up all night.
Nutrition Value of Belgian Dark Chocolate
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 101g bar of dark chocolate contains the following value of nutrition:
Health Benefits of Belgian Dark Chocolate
Belgian dark chocolate consists of several compounds that possess antioxidant properties. it contains flavanols and polyphenols. The antioxidant properties of dark chocolate help you to neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. Cells and tissues are in the body are affected by an excessive amount of oxidative stress. The natural aging process is also caused by oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress contributes to the development of various diseases:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Eye Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Heart Disease
Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which affects the two major risk of heart disease. If the person starts eating dark chocolate regularly, then it might help him to reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease. The major factors in heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be reduced.
In dark chocolate, flavanols stimulate nitric oxide production in the body. Blood pressures go high or low because of nitric oxide. It causes blood vessels to widen or dilate. Studies show that dark chocolate is having a significant beneficial effect on older people than younger people, who have a risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dark chocolate contains compounds such as polyphenols and theobromine that reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body or increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Dark chocolate helps to raise the good cholesterol (HDL) levels in people who have HIV.
Immune response to germs and other harmful substances is a part of the body known as inflammation. Chronic inflammation damages cells and tissues. It increases some of the health issues such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. There are compounds of anti-inflammatory properties in dark chocolate that help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Studies show that consuming 70 percent of dark chocolate affects the activity of genes and it makes the immune system regulate and respond. Eating 30 g of 84 percent dark chocolate for 8 weeks reduces inflammatory biomarkers in people with type 2 diabetes.
Brain function can be improved by eating dark chocolate. It helps to prevent neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Consumption of dark chocolate enhances neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself in the response to injury or disease.
Improves Cognition, Prevents Memory Loss, and Boosts Your Mood
Consumption of dark chocolate stimulates neural activity in the area of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. It helps to reduce your stress and improves your mood. There is a cognitive-enhancement in the mood with the consumption of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate consists of high levels of flavonoids which affects positively on your memory, cognition, and mood. For this, you have to eat organic chocolate with 70 percent of Belgian dark chocolate.
Good for gut and weight loss
Dark chocolate behaves like a prebiotic, a type of fiber, that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. If there are more good microbes in your system, the better your body will be able to digest the nutrients. Dark chocolate supports a healthy metabolism.
Consumption of dark chocolate increases your metabolism, which means that your can control your appetite. It could help you to lose weight. Eating dark chocolate before or after meals triggers the hormones. It signals the brain that you are full. If you consume more dark chocolate than recommended, it will counteract potential weight loss.
The high concentration of flavanols in dark chocolate modulates the blood flow. When the blood flows from different parts of the body, you can notice the smooth and healthy glow in your skin. The use of dark chocolate reduces the impact of UV radiation and moisturizes the skin.
Risk and Side Effects Considerations
- The health benefits of consuming Belgian Dark Chocolate, primarily come from the flavanols. Flavanols are present in cocoa solids.
- Among dark chocolate products, the content of flavanol varies from one another.
- Processing methods are not the same between the manufacturers. This also affects the flavanol content in dark chocolate.
- There is no legal requirement for chocolate manufacturers to mention the flavanol content in their products. The products with a high percentage of cocoa solids contain a high level of flavanols.
- Along with the health benefits, dark chocolate contains a high level of sugar and fat which makes it a very calorie-dense food.
- Cocoa butter is the main source of fat in dark chocolate. Besides, it contains unhealthy saturated fats.
- Consuming too much dark chocolate can also be an alarming situation as we have mentioned above in the case of weight loss. If you start consuming too much dark chocolate, it will bring calories, fats, and sugars into your body.
- Belgian Dark Chocolate contains a lot of fat, but some of the fats do not impact your cholesterol. They contain oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid, which prevents the increase in cholesterol.
How much to eat?
The chocolate manufacturers do not mention the flavanol content of their products. It becomes difficult for a consumer to know that how much he/she should consume for maximum health benefits. The best way to be on the health benefits track from dark chocolate, you should consume 20 to 30 grams of dark chocolate per day.
Best time to eat dark chocolate
If you want to lose weight, then the best time to eat dark chocolate is on an empty stomach. You can also eat it 30 minutes after the solid-food meal. You can also eat dark chocolate as a snack between and dinner time. You cannot eat dark chocolate before bed because it contains a high level of theobromine and caffeine. They cause insomnia and sleep disturbance. If taken before bed in a higher amount, there might be a higher chance of terror and nightmares.
Belgian dark chocolate, a rich source of antioxidants, minerals, and other essential nutrients can be a good source of health benefits. Especially for heart and diabetic patients. It helps them to maintain their cholesterol and sugar levels. It helps to improve the blood circulation in the body and increases metabolism. It also helps to make the skin glow. Apart from all the healthy benefits, if the consumption of dark chocolate is not moderate, then it becomes a risk. It causes side effects in the human body. So, if you want to add Belgian Dark Chocolate to your diet, then moderation is the key to health benefits!