Nutritional Value of Chocolate
Now before you get all excited to hear about how the research of the food you love to eat happens to be good for you, know this:
Many of the studies are/were industry backed research. Sure, that in and of itself does not mean they are false or skewed, but should serve as an indication that the results could be tainted. There was actually an intentionally misleading study conducted (see: The Chocolate Diet Hoax) just to prove reporters love to jump on the bandwagon and report such studies without any verification, and it just so happened to be about chocolate helping people lose weight… although there were later studies conducted that do in fact suggest that eating chocolate could help one lose weight.
Though the general rule of thumb among diet and nutrition experts is that dark chocolate is the only chocolate worth eating, that’s not always the case. For example, it has been shown that drinking chocolate milk after a workout aids in muscle recovery… Well, chocolate milk could not be considered dark chocolate; it can be flavored “Dark Chocolate” by the manufacturer, much in the same way anything can be “White Chocolate” flavored without any chocolate ingredients whatsoever (See: The Scoop on Chocolate). So be alert to the schemes and the marketing ploys!
- One important thing to note is that the less expensive bean to make chocolate with may actually be even better for health benefits as research suggests that the Forastero bean has a higher concentration of polyphenols! This may be why this particular chocolate tree is less prone to disease. Taste isn’t everything!
- Most health and nutritional experts recommend non-alkalized cocoa as the preferred cocoa in chocolate; so that generally means no “Dutch Chocolate” to those consuming chocolate strictly for the nutritional value.
Claimed Health Benefits of Chocolate:
So we will examine many of the claimed health and nutritional values of chocolate. (This may take some time with many revisions and updates to complete —» as there are many). In most cases, the following proposed listed benefits apply only to dark chocolate unless otherwise noted:
• Dark Chocolate can help you lose weight
Rationale: Helps fight additional cravings and reduces hunger with high fiber content.
• Lowers heart disease risk
• Improves cognitive function
Rationale: Researchers at Harvard discovered a correlation of eating dark chocolate to increased blood flow to the brain.
• Reduced stress
Rationale: Cacao increases dopamine production which makes one feel happier and reduces anxiety.
(See also the next below related listed benefit…)
• Improves Mood
Rationale: Research published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed study subjects exhibited decreased stress, improved mood, and increased cognitive performance after ingesting cocoa flavonoids.
• Healthier bones
Rationale: By way of a good source of manganese.
AW Note: Sure, but you can quite easily get manganese from many other sources.
• Improves gut health
Rationale: Good source of prebiotic fiber.
AW Note: Sure, but you can quite easily get prebiotic fiber from many other sources.
• Improves Circulation
Rationale: Research published in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests dark chocolate can improve arterial health thereby reducing your risk of a cardiovascular event.
(See also the next below related listed benefit…)
• Lowers Blood Pressure
Rationale: By way of circulation boosting abilities and the oleic acid in cocoa has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure as well.
• Reduced Diabetes Symptoms
Rationale: Researchers at the University of L’Aquila tested study subjects and found that they had an increase in insulin sensitivity following the eating of dark chocolate which may indicate a preventive effect against blood sugar spikes.
• High antioxidant properties
• Improved nerve function
Rationale: Being the major source of theobromine, which can improve nerve function
• Decreased breast cancer risk
Rationale: By way of high concentrations of monounsaturated fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells. Other research points to the antioxidants and catechins that can stop the growth of mammory tumors.
• Reduced cataracts and eye health
• Reduces Fatigue
Rationale: Caffiene, theobromine
• Improved Dental Health
Rationale: By way of combating harmful bacteria in mouth with polyphenols potentially reducing risk of tooth decay, gum disease, halitosis, and staining.
• Boosts Sex Drive
Rationale: Natural aphrodisiac
• Decreased Sun and UV (Ultra-Violet) Skin Damage
Rationale: The copper in dark chocolate boosts collagen production and researchers at the London University of Arts found that flavanol-rich chocolate can have a protective effect against the damaging rays of the sun on skin.
• Improved Cell Health
Rationale: Good source of resveratrol.
AW Note: Sure, but you can quite easily get resveratrol from many other sources.
• Cough Suppressant
Rationale: High theobromine content shown to reduce throat irritation and coughing.
• Reduced Signs of Aging
Rationale: By way of inflammation fighting, UV protection, and collagen boosting.
• Anemia Fighting Abilities
• Reduced Blood Clot Risk
Rationale: Researchers at John Hopkins University discovered that eating dark chocolate can help thin blood, thereby reducing the risk of coagulation.
• Reduce Colon Cancer Risk