Chocolate remains in one of the first places on the popularity scale of sweet temptations. On the one hand, this is due to its irresistible flavor and, on the other hand, to the huge number of varieties offered.
Most chocolate lovers are as aware as indifferent that chocolate, due to its sometimes very high sugar content, is not exactly a healthy snack. However, chocolate can actually have great health benefits, but this only applies to certain types.
How chocolate is made
To make chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted and ground at a temperature of approximately 120 ° to 160 ° C. The heat generated during the roasting and grinding process liquefy the fat from the cocoa bean, the so-called cocoa butter.
This resulting creamy cocoa mass now consists of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. The latter is usually sold as a cocoa powder without oil.
Cocoa mass is the basic ingredient of each chocolate. The only exception is white chocolate. The cocoa mass is mixed with sugar, milk, or cream powder and the emulsifier lecithin (mainly soy).
Then the chocolate dough is rolled so that its consistency becomes thinner. The result is then filled in molds: milk chocolate is ready.
Very dark and somewhat bitter types of chocolate do not always contain powdered milk, they often only contain cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and some sugar. The higher the content of pure cocoa (that is, the proportion of cocoa solids) in chocolate, the darker, bitter, and less sweet it becomes.
Organic quality chocolate
The cocoa tree is generally kept in monocultures, so it is very susceptible to pests. This is also the reason why these trees are sprayed with particularly intense pesticides.
Therefore, buy cocoa, and all products made with it, exclusively from certified organic farming. These cocoa trees grow in mixed crops, which contributes to the fact that the soil is very rich in nutrients, and pests are kept away naturally.
In addition, the soil on which these cocoa trees grow has significantly higher nutrients and vital substances, which of course can also be found in chocolate.
Cocoa: one of the best sources of magnesium
The cocoa bean is one of the largest natural sources of magnesium of all available foods. Weakly defatted cocoa powder provides more than 400 mg of magnesium per 100 g. Therefore, it would easily cover the daily needs of an adult in this amount.
Now, of course, you don’t eat 100 grams of cocoa powder per day. But it is clear that cocoa or natural chocolate with a very high cocoa content, even in small quantities, can make an important contribution to meet our magnesium requirements.
If you now remember all the positive effects of magnesium on our health, then cocoa should have a place on our menu just for that reason.
Magnesium, for example, has an anti-inflammatory effect, promotes heart health, activates more than 300 enzymes, relaxes our muscles, relieves headache, and last but not least, supports all efforts that should lead to ideal body weight.
In addition, cocoa beans and, ultimately, chocolate with a high cocoa content contains a considerable amount of other minerals and trace elements such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and copper.
Antioxidants in cocoa and chocolate
The cocoa bean contains many other valuable ingredients. More than 500 are already known. Some of the phytochemicals contained in the polyphenol group beans are flavonoids.
They have a strong antioxidant effect, so they can protect the body from the destructive effects of free radicals. These antioxidants strengthen and relieve the immune system, so their health benefits cannot be overestimated.
The chocolate studio
Scientists at the University of Hull, in England, conducted one of the first studies to investigate the influence of polyphenols on cholesterol levels. They published their results in 2010 in the journal Diabetic Medicine.
This study was a cross-sectional study, in which the participants were divided into the experimental group in one phase of the experiment and the control group in the other phase.
In this way, the scientists were able to determine the effects of their measurements both in relation to individual test subjects and to evaluate the results within the entire group.
Chocolate increases good cholesterol
The randomized, double-blind study was conducted with 12 participants, all of whom had type-2 diabetes. In the experimental treatment, test subjects received 45 g of chocolate per day, which had a high proportion of polyphenols. The control group received the same amount of chocolate but only had a very low polyphenol content.
The scientists found that eating chocolate with high polyphenol content resulted in an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a decrease in total cholesterol.
Chocolate lowers bad cholesterol
These results were confirmed and even complemented in two additional studies that were carried out over the next two years. The first of the two studies were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011.
This was a meta-analysis * of a total of 10 previously completed clinical trials that had investigated a relationship between cocoa consumption and cholesterol levels.
The scientists found that if there was a short-term increase in cocoa consumption, LDL (“bad” cholesterol) could also be significantly reduced without having an impact on the level of HDL (“good” cholesterol).
The second study confirmed the results
31 subjects participated in the second study, conducted by researchers at the University State of San Diego, and presented at the Congress of Experimental Biology in 2012.
Over a period of 15 days, some of the test subjects received 50 g of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent every day. The other participants received the same amount of white chocolate that does not contain cocoa.
Result: the group of those who had eaten dark chocolate had significantly higher HDL values and at the same time lower LDL values than the participants in the control group.
The markedly lower blood sugar values of the dark chocolate group compared to the white chocolate group were also notable.
Chocolate protects the cardiovascular system
According to a study by scientists at Penn State University in 2012 and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, chocolate “not only” can reduce LDL levels, but at the same time can significantly increase the rate of cholesterol oxidation LDL
This is especially important because LDL oxidation is more likely to play a key role in the hardening of the arteries.
In test subjects, LDL oxidized significantly more slowly when they had eaten dark chocolate.
In addition, the proportion of HDL and the number of antioxidants present were significantly higher than among the participants in the control group.
Chocolate keeps your blood vessels healthy
An American study also showed that flavanols (certain antioxidants contained in cocoa) keep blood vessels flexible and also prevent deposits inside the vessels. In this way, they prevent high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
Chocolate also keeps the cardiovascular system healthy. Certain benign strains of bacteria in the digestive tract, such as bifidobacteria and lactic acid, feed on cocoa in chocolate.
They process the ingredients in metabolic products that stop inflammatory processes in the body. However, inflammatory processes are often the trigger for the formation of deposits in the vessel walls.
If the inflammation is now reduced, this increases the functionality of the vessels, which in turn represents an important preventive effect in terms of cardiovascular diseases.
Chocolate improves mood
Of course, a healthy heart and a harmonious cholesterol level are reason enough for a good mood. Chocolate, or the cocoa it contains, increases the mood in another way: theobromine content guarantees a slightly stimulating effect.
Even for arginine, cocoa bean is a good source. Arginine is an amino acid that, according to some stories, is said to have an effect similar to Viagra. Arginine promotes blood flow and, therefore, blood circulation in the genital organs. As a result, sexual desire increases, both in men and women.
This was also one of the reasons why cocoa beans have always been called an aphrodisiac. But it can also be stimulating in another direction. The Aztecs already knew about the stimulating properties of chocolate. Today we talk more about antidepressant properties.
This is due to substances such as serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide, which are present in cocoa. Together with some other substances, they ensure that the brain receives everything necessary for a happy mood and an alert mind.
Now, during pregnancy, there is usually no need for mood enhancers. Anticipation for the baby ensures enough happiness. Fortunately, chocolate can also have other benefits during pregnancy, in addition to the additional portion of magnesium.
Chocolate during pregnancy
Preeclampsia (pregnancy intoxication) is one of the leading causes of premature birth and is often the reason for spontaneous abortion and fetal death. Preeclampsia is associated with high blood pressure, edema, and increased excretion of protein in the urine and is considered one of the most dangerous diseases in pregnancy.
Studies in 2,500 pregnant women at Yale University have found that women who eat dark chocolate regularly are 50% less likely to develop preeclampsia during pregnancy.
However, it has to be chocolate with a very high cocoa content (70%). Milk chocolate with its huge sugar content is not recommended during pregnancy.
Even with age, chocolate shows its positive effects, even combating dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s.
A team of researchers from the Harvard Medical School published the results of a study in the specialized journal Neurology, according to which the consumption of two cups of hot chocolate a day benefits brain health.
The chocolate drink could guarantee the constant supply of blood to certain areas of the brain and, in this way, specifically prevent memory loss in the elderly.
The study included 60 people who had no notable signs of Alzheimer’s disease but who partially had circulatory disorders in the brain and had an average of 73 years. Each participant drank two cups of hot chocolate every day during the 30-day study period but did not consume any other type of chocolate.
Subsequently, the 60 volunteers underwent several tests in which memory and thinking skills were evaluated. The scientists also used ultrasound technology to measure the degree to which the brain received blood during these tests.
“Since different areas of the brain require different amounts of energy to perform their tasks, consequently a greater blood supply is necessary for some of these areas. This connection, which we call neurovascular coupling, could play an extremely important role in the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. ”Dr. Farzaneh Sorond
After the end of the study, the researchers were able to determine a significant improvement in blood flow in the respective brain areas in some of the study participants who had previously suffered an inhibited blood supply in the brain. Those affected also suddenly had a better memory.
There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive functions. Both can be clearly improved by the regular consumption of cocoa.Dr. Farzaneh Sorond
Chocolate rejuvenates your brain for 30 years!
But even if there are already memory problems, chocolate can help, as another American study showed.
According to the research results, cocoa flavanols improve the activity of certain areas of the brain, so that the study participants were able to achieve significantly better memory performance.
A person with the typical brain activity of a sixty-year-old man after the intake of flavonols showed the brain activity of a thirty-year-old boy.
French researchers discovered that cocoa antioxidants also protect brain cells from cell death due to oxidative stress and, therefore, prevent memory loss. In addition, it even stimulates the formation of new nerve cells.
Chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa
Unfortunately, the dementia study mentioned above did not provide accurate information on the cocoa content of the drink. However, since previous research projects have shown that chocolate products are more effective the higher their cocoa content, only chocolates with high cocoa content (70%) should be used.
Chocolates with such a high cocoa content don’t even get fat!
Chocolate prevents overweight
Chocolate with a high cocoa content prevents weight gain and the development of type 2 diabetes, as a US scientific study has shown.
Animal studies showed that cocoa flavanols inhibited weight gain in mice that received a high-fat diet. In addition, flavonols had positive effects on glucose tolerance, so they also contributed to the prevention of diabetes.
But what about drinking chocolate, which was also used in the study of dementia?
To drink chocolate (either hot or cold), we recommend a recipe without milk, since it is suspected that milk makes some antioxidants ineffective.
Maybe you try the following recipe:
Drinking chocolate is very healthy
Ingredients for 2 jumbo cups
- 750 ml of hot or cold water (filtered)
- 1.5 tablespoons white almond butter
- 1.5 – 2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder (such as raw food quality), if you don’t like the strong taste of cocoa, use less cocoa powder
Put all the ingredients together in the high-performance blender (Vitamix or Pure Bianco) and mix for at least 1 minute. A delicious drink that is a poem that is enjoyed at breakfast, as a dessert, or in the afternoon coffee.
Raw Chocolate – for the best quality and benefits
In order to fully enjoy the immensely diverse health benefits of cocoa beans, chocolate should ideally be of raw food quality.
To guarantee this, the beans must not have been heated above 42 ° C during the manufacturing process, since only in this way all the nutrients and vital substances it contains remain unchanged.
Therefore, raw chocolate beans are not roasted but fermented gently. In this raw form, cocoa, like all products made from it, is a true “magic food” full of healthy and delicious nutrients.
Basic Recipe 1
- 100 g cocoa butter
- 50 g white almond butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Basic Recipe 2
- 100 g cocoa butter
- 2 large tablespoons white almond butter
- 3 tablespoons coconut flower sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Vanilla from a vanilla bean
Of course, you can also use another sweetener such as honey, xylitol, rice syrup, or the like. Instead of almond butter, 50 g of very fine ground nuts have a delicious flavor.
Do you love white chocolate? Then skip the cocoa powder and take extra vanilla. If you only use 70 to 80 grams of cocoa butter, you can add 20 to 30 grams of coconut oil to the recipe.
Even spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, spice mix, chili, etc. They fit perfectly with chocolate.
So there are no limits to your imagination. To make chocolate you need a good blender (Personal Blender, Vitamix, or Pure Bianco) and chocolate or praline molds (for example, silicone).
First, cocoa butter (and coconut oil) melts carefully in a water bath or small saucepan. The temperature should not rise above 42° C if you are looking for raw chocolate. Once cocoa butter is liquid, it can be added to the blender along with the other ingredients.
Mix the dough until a liquid chocolate forms. Now fill the molds with the liquid. If you use silicone molds, place them on a small board before filling the chocolate. Because balancing a silicone mold filled with liquid chocolate in the refrigerator is not exactly easy, especially since, ultimately, one hand is usually missing to open the refrigerator door.
Leave your molds in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. Do you have liquid chocolate left over? Use this as a chocolate sauce for a dessert, for an energy snack, or vegan chocolate and tangerine tiramisu.
Dark chocolate has a positive impact on health due to its cocoa content of 70 percent. The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the healthier it becomes. However, if you want to benefit from the optimal effect of the cocoa bean, you must switch to raw chocolate.
You will see that after a short time you will not like any other chocolate. With this in mind, we wish you a pleasant chocolate moment.