last posts

benefits and downsides of chocolate

 Types of chocolate: their benefits and drawbacks

benefits and downsides of chocolate

Statistics show that chocolate is one of the most consumed foodstuffs around the world due to its unique flavor and delicious addictive taste. the main ingredient is cocoa powder. 

The cacao tree, which is typically found in tropical regions, yields cocoa by extracting it from its seeds.

The history of chocolate

The Maya civilization used cacao beans to make a bitter drink called “chocolatel,” which means hot drink. however, the Aztecs used it as a cold drink after adding chili peppers, honey, and vanilla.

After the Spanish reached the Americas and discovered the cocoa drink, they tried to sweeten it with sugar and honey. It was then known as a special drink for Spanish palaces and their guests. Later, chocolate spread to most of Europe.

Significant changes in the texture and flavor of chocolate have resulted from the emergence of novel methods and technologies for processing cocoa beans.

What are the stages of chocolate production?

  1. Harvesting the cacao and removing the seeds.
  2. Drying the seeds and transporting them to the factories.
  3. In industrial facilities, the seeds are washed, sorted, roasted, and the husk removed.
  4.  After obtaining the cocoa mass, it is ground to extract cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
  5. Finally, there are the stages of heating, cooling, and packaging.

Types of chocolate:

*Dark chocolate contains cocoa powder and cocoa butter in absolute proportion, and its taste is bitter and not pleasing to the tongue when consumed directly. cocoa powder usually contains a high percentage of raw cocoa.

Dark chocolate contains from twenty to eighty percent cocoa and is supplemented with additives such as sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla.

**White chocolate contains no less than twenty percent cocoa butter and is supplemented with milk, condensed milk, and flavorings, and unfortunately it does not contain any natural cocoa powder.

***Compared to dark chocolate, milk chocolate has a lighter brown color and is composed of 10% cocoa powder and sugar. 

Cocoa facts:

  • Dark chocolate contains the highest percentage of cocoa, which is rich in several antioxidant compounds.
  • Regular consumption of dark chocolate may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • The elements in dark chocolate stimulate nitric oxide production, which improves blood flow and thus lowers blood pressure.
  • Cocoa and dark chocolate are rich in minerals that are beneficial to the body.
  • Research studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory activity of cocoa products.
  • Chocolate may enhance neurotransmitter function, helping to regulate mood and sleep and reduce chronic fatigue.
  • Regular consumption of chocolate stimulates brain performance and enhances memory because the nutrients in dark chocolate may enhance neuroplasticity.
  • Cocoa beans contain antidepressant and mild stimulant compounds that mimic dopamine and adrenaline in the body.
  • Moreover, cocoa is rich in many vitamins and pantothenic acid.
  • Some people have an allergy to the ingredients in chocolate, as the immune system responds by releasing histamines into the bloodstream. this natural process affects the eyes, lungs, and throat.

    Some of the symptoms of a chocolate allergy include: 
  1. Shortness of breath and a slight wheezing
  2. Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  3. Diarrhea and vomiting
  4. Stomach cramps
  5. Swelling and pain in the abdomen.

The benefits and harms of chocolate:

  • Dark chocolate, which contains higher levels of cocoa compared to sugar, has many health benefits. However, after processing, the amount of added sugar increases, so it's important to check the label for instructions before purchasing. unfortunately, most types and forms of chocolate contain a large amount of added sugar, which increases caloric intake and causes dental and other health problems.
  • Chocolate's impact on bone density and strength is worth noting, as it could increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, chocolate consumption can lead to constipation for some individuals due to the presence of caffeine, which reduces intestinal water content.
  • Chocolate can aggravate acid reflux because it contains acidic cocoa powder, which relaxes the sphincter that separates the stomach and esophagus, allowing acid to flow back in and causing heartburn, thus aggravating the symptoms of acid reflux.
  • Chocolate contains caffeine, which can be addictive. Sudden cessation of caffeine can cause headaches, nervousness, and dizziness.
  • Chocolate consumption can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with some medications and anticoagulants.
  • Chocolate may cause acne breakouts and worsen skin allergies.
  • Chocolate can cause bloating and stomach cramps in children.
  • Excessive consumption of chocolate can exacerbate sleep disorders and migraines.
  • The risk of premature birth, low birth weight, or miscarriage may increase with the consumption of excessive amounts of chocolate during pregnancy. 
  • chocolate also contains compounds that can cause fetal abnormalities in the womb. 
  • Chocolate contains a large amount of sugar necessary for the growth and reproduction of the herpes virus, so those infected with this virus should avoid consuming chocolate whenever possible. 
  • Chocolate contains a high percentage of chemical compounds that increase the amount of uric acid in the urine, which can lead to kidney stones. 

How to choose and eat?

  • Chocolate manufacturers generally do not report the content of their chocolate products, making it difficult to know how much dark chocolate we consume to benefit from its health benefits.
  • High-quality dark chocolate contains a percentage of natural cocoa powder.
  • Be sure to get dark chocolate that contains more than seventy percent natural cocoa powder.
  • In conclusion, you should not deprive yourself of the benefits of consuming chocolate but do not overindulge in it because each of us has a capacity for food intake. 
  • If you overindulge today, you will not be able to consume it tomorrow unless you want to harm yourself. let moderation be your magical slogan for consuming cocoa products safely, away from the negative effects and harms of chocolate.

Did you know that?

  1. Creams, cosmetics, and soap are manufactured using cocoa butter.
  2. In the Aztec financial system, cocoa beans were used as currency. a turkey was valued at 100 cocoa beans, while a single fresh avocado cost only three cocoa beans.
  3. Chocolate used to be sold as a medication and a vitamin supplement.
  4. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but is completely devoid of cocoa powder and its health benefits. therefore, some countries do not consider it a type of chocolate.
  5. The most renowned countries in the production of chocolate are Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany. they have shops that mix cocoa mass with special recipes of exclusive fragrances and flavors.