Dark chocolate: the health benefits
There’s no better antidote to a bad mood: a square of dark chocolate is enough to cheer you up. And it’s not just morale that benefits: this irresistibly greedy food, in fact, also has many others positive effects on our body, obviously if eaten without excesses, however difficult it is to resist. What are the nutrients What Makes Dark Chocolate So Beneficial? Why is it preferable to the milk one? Has contraindications? E how to use it in the kitchen, in desserts and more? Let yourself be tempted and come with us to get to know this goodness better.
Chocolate is obtained from cocoa paste, which is obtained from the drying and roasting of cocoa beans, i.e. the seeds of the plant, to which sugar and cocoa butter are added. Therefore, it is mostly made up of grassi and, to a lesser extent, from carbohydrates e protein. But it also brings many other substances to which its benefits are owed, especially if it is dark. Compared to milk and white chocolate, in fact, that fondant contains a higher percentage of cocoavery rich in antioxidant compoundsin particular of quercetin, catechins and procyanidins (all belonging to the flavonoid group), as well as theobromine, an alkaloid of the polyphenol class, which, as we will see, make it very precious for heart health and beyond.
Comparison of dark chocolate and milk chocolate
Let’s give some numbers: 100 g of dark chocolate contain 50-60 mg of flavonoids, 100 g of milk chocolate they bring 10-20 mga pound of white chocolate not even a bit, because cocoa is absent in its formulation and, consequently, so are its beneficial substances.
Dark chocolate, compared to milk chocolate, contains also a little less sugar, calories and fat (especially less saturated fat, the ones most harmful to health).
In detail, as CREA (Research Center for Food and Nutrition) recalls:
- 100 g of dark chocolate contain 6.6 g of protein, 33.6 g in lipidi (of which fatty acids saturated: 61.90%; monounsaturated fatty acids: 33.31%; polyunsaturated fatty acids: 4.24%), 49.7 g of soluble sugars, 8 g of fiber and 531 calories;
- 100 g of milk chocolateon the other hand, provide 7.3 g of protein, 36.3 g in lipids (of which fatty acids saturated: 68.73%; monounsaturated fatty acids: 33.5%; polyunsaturated fatty acids: 3.73%), 50.5 g of soluble sugars, 3.2 g of fibres.
In detail, on the fat front:
- a square of milk chocolate (equal to 4 grams) contains 1.5 g of fat total, of which 0.9 g saturated, 0.5 g monounsaturated, 0.1 g polyunsaturated;
- a square of dark chocolate (equal to 4 grams) contains 1.3 g of fat total, of which 0.8 g saturated, 0.4 g monounsaturated, 0.1 polyunsaturated.
The nutritional profile of dark chocolate is completed by a good content of mineral salts, in particular of magnesiumpresent in quantities proportional to the percentage of cocoa, therefore greater than those of milk chocolate.
In short, dark chocolate is to be preferred by choosing it at least 70% to fully enjoy the healthy properties of chocolate. Let’s find out in more detail what they are.
The benefits of dark chocolate
Many scientific studies associate the consumption of dark chocolate with a series of beneficial effects, especially on heart health. This food, in particular, helps us to:
- maintain blood pressure and cholesterol under control;
- give blood vessels more elastic;
- improve the blood circulation.
Merit of the antioxidant substances it contains, in particular of flavonoidsuseful for counteract the harmful effects of free radicals e slow down cellular agingprotecting us from cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and of theobrominean alkaloid present in cocoa beans and tea leaves, which in addition to having a stimulating action on the nervous system also has cardiotonic and vasodilatory properties, with protective effects of the cardio and cerebrovascular system.
Dark chocolate is also a very beneficial food for sportsmenWhy:
- has good content of carbohydratesexcellent source of immediately expendable energy for physical activity;
- i flavonoids which contains, in addition to being antioxidants, they also have anti-inflammatory properties which favor the muscle regeneration after an intense workout and reduce the risk of injury:
- thanks to magnesiumhelp to counteract fatigue and to improve sports performance.
But dark chocolate, as we have mentioned, is also good for thehumor thanks to the combined action of three substances: the tryptophanan amino acid which is rich in and which our body uses to produce serotoninthe so-called happiness hormonethe theobrominewhich as we have said has aexciting actionand the magnesiumThat promotes relaxationboth mental and physical.
Consumption advice and contraindications
Naturally, the many benefits that dark chocolate assures us shouldn’t be the excuse for eating it excessively. This food, in fact, in addition to the many useful substances, also has a fair amount of calories, sugars and fats: better do not exceed 6 squares per dayrecommends it IEO (European Institute of Oncology).
Then there are some situations where it is better resist the temptation to eat chocolate: if you have the diabetesfor its sugar content, and if you suffer from gastritis and gastroesophageal refluxbecause it contains caffeine, which could worsen the symptoms, especially if consumed in the evening.
Recipes with dark chocolate
Needless to say: dark chocolate gives its best in the kitchen sweets and, in Italy and in the world. you are spoiled for choice, because the recipes are so many, many of which are very famous, from the Sacher to brownies, from salami to cookies, from the Black Forest to the Caprese cake. Not forgetting one of the comfort food more delicious when it’s cold, the hot chocolate in its many variations.
However, don’t underestimate its potential savory dishes, because you would be missing out on real delicacies. Some idea? Some tasty ones sweet and sour aubergines flavored with chocolate and cinnamon. Also try using it, together with red wine, as a condiment for risottoor combine it with meats such as beef, pork, wild boar or rabbit to prepare stews, braised meats and fillets in chocolate sauce. It will also amaze you along with fish and shellfish: a vinaigrette of dark chocolate and balsamic vinegar is perfect to enhance the taste of the prawns.
Discover the dark chocolate recipes in the “Ingredients” section of Buonissimo.
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