At times, when you are stressed at work or irritated by a long commute- the wiser people around you might have offered you a bar of dark chocolate. No, they are not just being polite. They are right! Dark chocolate is not just heaven descended on earth for chocolate aficionados, but also a storehouse of goodness. And that’s what we are going to discuss in this issue’s Good Health, Naturally.
Often termed as the “healthy chocolate”, dark chocolate is a variant of chocolate that has a higher content of cocoa butter and lesser milk content than regular chocolates. Identified as a superfood and stress buster- dark chocolate is popular all across the world. The scientific name of cocoa bean is Theobroma Cacao, that translates to “Food of the gods”. History reports that those who drank it felt increased energy, focus, stamina, happiness, and virility.
Dark chocolate and irregular heat beat:
A recent study conducted in Denmark has found that eating chocolate helps reduce the risk of one type of irregular heartbeat, known as Atrial Fibrillation. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help in maintaining a healthy heart. Antioxidants are a group of compounds known to fight the damaging effects of oxidative stress on cells within the body and are increasingly thought to have many heart-healthy properties.Also, it is known to calm and relax the mind. Since the sugar content is less in dark chocolate compared to the variants, it is also recommended in moderation for diabetics. A recent study found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels – both common causes of artery clogging.
Another report clearly suggests how those (who were surveyed) reported a significantly lower blood pressure when they consumed dark chocolate, against those who consumed white chocolate. The flavonoids content in dark chocolate also helps in treating body ailments. These are useful in treating anemic patients as well as those having poor dietary habits. The flavanols also help you to maintain the glow in your skin. A Finnish study found that chocolate reduced stress in expectant mothers, and that the babies of such mothers smiled more often than the offspring of non-chocolate-eating parents.
Correlation to stress and other medical benefits:
By stimulating the production of endorphins in the body- dark chocolate makes sure you feel happier and stress-free each time you dig a bite into it. Other stimulants in dark chocolate include theobromine and caffeine. The polyphenols and antioxidants content helps in maintaining good blood flow and improved vascular health. The serotonin level in dark chocolate may act as an effective anti-depressant. It contains serotonin, which has nearly identical qualities of anti-depressants. Thinking nutrient-rich food? Think dark chocolate, again. Rich in magnesium, copper, selenium, iron, potassium and zinc- it is the ideal nutrient-rich superfood you would want in your house (of course, in moderation).
Recipes you’ll love:
Dark chocolate is, in simple terms, heavens descended on earth. With a slightly bitter taste and less sugary- it can be the ultimate mid-day snack or late-night binge eating. In addition to the ready-made bars you can dig a bite into, there are various recipes you can try to satiate the choco-craving. From homemade pies to chocolate cakes, to chocolate mousse, there are many things to try. You can also bake a fresh batch of choco-nut cookies as an evening snack for kids after they are back from school.
Pic courtesy: afternoonrecipes.com