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Health Benefits of Chocolate Consumption
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By Thomas Raja
Many people regardless of age and culture enjoy indulging in chocolate. Chocolate is made of cocoa seeds that are extracted from their pods, fermented then roasted to form cocoa beans. The shell of the beans are discarded from cocoa nibs and the nibs are grounded into a liquid known as chocolate liquor.
Chocolate manufacturers would process chocolate liquor to get chocolate solids, and make chocolate bars that are sold in stores. The shell of the beans are grounded into cocoa powder and it is used in baking and making chocolate beverages.
There are three types of chocolate. Milk chocolate has about 10 to 50 percent of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk and sugar while dark chocolate has around 50 to 90 percent of cocoa solids, sugar and cocoa butter. As for white chocolate, it only contains cocoa butter, milk and sugar.
Chocolates contain flavonols, a type of flavonoid that consists of a group of phytonutrients found in lots of fruits and vegetables. The flavanols in chocolate help protect the heart from heart diseases and the skin from sun damage. Flavanols help blood vessels to relax in the body, lower high blood pressure and improve blood flow to the body and also to the brain, aiding in the improvement of cognitive functions. Dark chocolate has higher levels of flavonols compared to milk chocolate while white chocolate has none.
Chocolate has organic compounds that are high in antioxidants. It also has tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin which is associated with mood elevation and happiness. Chocolate contains a chemical called epicatechin that may also help protect the brain against the formation of sticky proteins which causes Alzheimer’s disease. The content of caffeine in chocolates also aids in concentration.
For chocolate lovers, it’s best to consume chocolates that have at least 70 percent of cocoa, such as dark chocolate in order to get the maximum amount of flavonols for your health. Despite the health benefits, chocolates should still be consumed moderately as over consumption would lead to diabetes and obesity.
** The views expressed on this opinion is of the writer and not the publisher