Eating chocolate has always been a part of the most happiest moments of my life as long as I can remember. No, there’s nothing sad or pitiful about it. Who does not like having a box of premium chocolates to wolf down all on their own while watching the cheesiest chick-flick you can find on Netflix? You may prefer going about town, painting the town red but I prefer a more mellow Friday night and it gets better with chocolate.
When Eating Chocolate Becomes a Craze?
A long time ago, before chocolate is as how we know it, eating chocolate was an activity that was non-existent. In other words, people don’t eat chocolate but they drink it. Made out of cacao fruit grown abundantly in ancient Mexico or the Olmecs, as it was known then.
Chocolate then, or cacao, was not seen as a sign of comfort and indulgence as we know it today. Instead of eating chocolate, the Aztecs drink it. Cacao beans and even the drink are seen to have magical properties to calm and put the drinker in a sense of euphoria especially during sacred sacrificial rituals. Dark for something so delicious, right?
However, after the Spanish inquisition, cacao, has been converted into a show of wealth and luxury, where only the rich would be able to enjoy chocolate. But, not the bitter liquid that the Mayans and Aztecs held sacred. With a little bit of milk and sugar, liquefied chocolate has transformed from ‘food fit for pigs’ as the Spanish claimed, into a delectable almost dainty dessert.
It is not after the Industrial era, where machines were used to replace manual labour that chocolate is able to be mass produced and enjoyed by every individual of all classes. Despite its dark beginnings, eating chocolate brings more benefits than harm and if you are still not convinced, I have 10 reasons that show eating chocolate is good for you.
Types of Chocolate
For people who loves eating chocolate, this is not new information for them. But for those who don’t, well, you are learning something new today. For most non-chocolate enthusiasts, there is only one type of chocolate; it’s square, it’s chocolate and sometimes it has nuts or fruit in it.
However, shockingly, we have more types of chocolate that you would want to know, so I will settle with the four main chocolate types that we have, at one point of our lives, tried them.
Milk chocolate is, unsurprisingly, chocolate made with milk. It can be made either with powdered milk, liquid or even condensed milk. It has a more rich flavour than the rest of the chocolate types. The first milk chocolate was created by Henri Nestle (sounds familiar) whose recipe was then, improved by a Swiss confectioner, Daniel Peter in 1875.
Dark chocolate or plain chocolate is produced with a higher percentage of cocoa rather than milk. Dark chocolate is usually used in baking or cooking but chocolates with lower than 70% cocoa percentage can be sold as eating chocolate as well.
White chocolate is made using cocoa butter, sugar and milk. The pale whitish colour is due to the absence of cocoa solids in it. It has a very sweet, milky flavour.
Ruby chocolate is the new type of chocolate created by Barry Callebaut,
a Belgian-Swiss cocoa company. It was developed in 2004 and only been introduced to the public in 2017. It has a distinct pinkish-red colour with a sweet-sour flavour.
Benefits of Eating Chocolate
Now, we all know about the bad effects of eating chocolate to your health and teeth but I feel we should start talking about the benefits of eating chocolate. Yes, kids! Eating chocolate has benefits too. However, I should be clear that the only type of chocolate that is good for you is the dark chocolate. Not milk, not white and definitely, not the ruby one.
1. Low Blood Pressure and Better Blood Flow
Believe it or not, chocolate can help lower blood pressure and flow. The flavanoids in the chocolate can stimulate the lining of arteries called the endothelium, to produce Nitric Oxide. Nitric Oxide functions by sending signals to the arteris to relax and lowers resistance to the blood flow.
2. May Reduce Heart Disease Risks
Dark chocolate was found to significantly decrease oxidized low-density cholesterol aka the bad one and prevents arteries from getting blocked. Besides, chocolate is seen to be able to increase the number of high-density cholestrol aka the good one as well as improving insulin sensitivity in your body, In other words, chocolate makes your heart healthy and free of obstructions.
3. Protected Skin
Women love to look flawless and the most important thing when it comes to looking flawless is to have healthy skin. Bio-active compounds in dark chocolate like flavanol, can protect your skin from sun damage, improves blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
4. Improve Brain Function
If you need a brain booster during a last minute revision before a big test, don’t go buy those expensive ‘brain food’. Just nibble on some dark chocolate instead. It is said that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days can improve blood flow to the brain. Besides, stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine in cocoa, can improve brain function in the short term as well.
5. Healthier Fetus Development
Being pregnant is the most beautiful phase in a woman’s life. That’s what most people said anyways after putting the cramps, discomfort, nausea and other long list of ‘complications’ associated with being pregnant. But, some prevention won’t do any harm, right?
One of the complications of pregnancy is known as preeclampsia in which blood pressure can shoot up. Apparently, one of the chemicals in dark chocolate, theobromine, can stimulate the heart and help the arteries dilate. According to a research, the pregnant women who were given higher doses of chocolate had a 40% less chance of developing this complication.
6. Helps You Lose Weight
Losing weight while eating chocolate is possible! There’s a magical flavanol in chocolate called epicatechin that, as said by neuroscientist Will Clower, triggers the hormones in the brain that say “I’m full” and cutting the amount of food you subsequently consume. All you need to do is suck on a one and half square of chocolate for 20 minutes and you are ready to turn that new year’s resolution of reducing your snacking time into something real this time.
7. Makes You Happy
Have you ever notice yourself smiling while enjoying some chocolate? The reason you’re feeling that way even after a long, stressful day is because chocolate contains a flavanol calls phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins. The great advantage of chocolate is that it helps with the endorphin production without you having to run a marathon! Besides, endorphins play a key role in helping to prevent depression and other mental disorders. Want to be happy? Get a box of chocolates!
8. Alleviates Coughing Fits
The best benefit of eating chocolate, to me, is that it will always be with you in sickness and in health. The theobromine chemical in chocolate helps to calm even the most troublesome of coughs. Due to this unbelievable find, manufacturers are looking at this to produce safer cough syrups instead of using codeine which has some undesirable side effects. Either way, you still win!
Start Eating Chocolate Everyday!
Who would ever thought eating chocolate can give you more than one benefit? The benefits are, of course, based on research but there’s no harm in finding out yourself whether these benefits are true or not. Either way you are going to have fun.
If there are people trying to stop you from enjoying some rich, decadent chocolate, share with them these benefits and together, you can start cultivating the habit of eating chocolate together everyday at an appropriate amount. Remember, moderation is key!