Chocolate is made from thoroughly refined cacao beans. The beans are normally picked from the Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree. Cacao beans are usually fermented and later dried before they are roasted and grounded. The end product is a smooth solid fat, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter. It is the refining process that determines the amount chocolate liquor and cocoa butter that the chocolate will contain. Note that artificial fillers, as well as other ingredients, are sometimes added to create various types of chocolate.
Quick Facts about Chocolate
• They come in various types including dark or white chocolate, cookies etc.
• The consumption of chocolate in high amounts has always been linked to hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
• It’s believed that chocolate has high amounts of antioxidants.
• It’s rich in calories.
• It helps to fight various diseases and improve the overall health of the consumer.
• Those who want to lose weight or manage weight should only eat chocolate in moderate amounts.
Chocolate comes in various forms and varieties. They are used to make different chocolate-based products including chocolate bars, chips, cookies, smoothies etc. These varieties have different nutrition content because of how they are made and the ingredients they contain. The main types of chocolate include:
This is unsweetened and pulverized cocoa that’s defatted partially. The light brown powder which has a strong flavor is usually used with recipes that recommend the use of baking powder. Cocoa Powder contains a significant amount of acid.
It’s derived from the non-fat section of cocoa beans. It contains lecithin, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, and chocolate liquor. Unlike other types of chocolate, dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits thanks to the high nutrient content.
It’s derived from cocoa butter. White chocolate has milk solids, sugar, and cocoa butter. This type of chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa powder and chocolate liquor. Besides that, white chocolate easily gets overheated.
It contains chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and dry or condensed milk. Milk chocolate is sweeter compared to dark chocolate. It has a less chocolate flavor and its light in color. Milk chocolate may also contain added sugars and vegetable oil.
Chocolate Nutrition Facts
Chocolate is available in various forms including chocolate bar, chocolate milk, chocolate chip, cookies, and others. All these forms contain various amounts of nutrition and they provide the consumer with various benefits. Outlined below is the nutrition facts of various types of chocolate.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Nutrition
100g of homemade chocolate chip cookies contains a total of 488 calories. Other information about the chocolate chip cookies nutrition facts include:
• 28g of fat.
• 6g of protein
• 58g of carbs
• 5g of fiber.
Chocolate milk nutrition facts
This is milk that’s sweetened with chocolate. The chocolate milk nutrition can be made from home or purchased. 100 g of chocolate milk nutrition contains:
• 83 calories
• 10g of carbs
• 0.8g of fiber
• 3.2g of protein
Dark chocolate nutrition facts
This nutrient-rich type of chocolate contains high amounts of antioxidants. It has a lot of health benefits and below is its nutrition content per 100g:
• 600 calories
• 11g of fiber
• 47g of carbs
• 8g of protein
White chocolate nutrition facts
White chocolate is manufactured using plant-based as well as artificial ingredients. It’s a high-calorie type of chocolate that contains the following nutritional facts per 100g:
• 460 calories
• 5g of protein
• 59g of carbs
• 0.2g of fiber.
From the chocolate chip cookie nutrition and dark chocolate nutrition facts above, these two products are the best for weight loss because they contain high fiber content. They can be used to formulate various smoothies in order to accelerate the weight loss process.
Benefits of Chocolate
Chocolate contains numerous phenolic compounds which stimulate and enhance various functions of the body. Although generally, all types of chocolate are beneficial, dark chocolate is considered the best as it contains less sugar and fat content. From combating premature aging to reducing blood pressure, some of the benefits of chocolate include:
1. Improved Cognitive Function
Reports from research by scientists indicate that drinking a cup of chocolate daily can help to improve the cognitive functions. This is because cocoa that’s found in chocolate helps to improve the brain health. In addition to that, it also helps to reduce a decline in cognitive functions, especially in older people. Note that the brain requires energy in order for it to function properly. By improving the blood flow to various parts of the brain, chocolate improves cognitive function.
Cocoa contains flavonoids which help to improve the cognitive functions. Individuals who take chocolate have better memory compared to those who don’t. It’s for this reason that some of the people who suffer from memory loss are advised to take chocolate. Besides that, some students take it because it helps them to improve in mathematical equations. Research studies have established that cocoa extract can prevent or reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It improves the functions of the nerve pathways thereby improving the overall brain function.
2. Enhanced Athletic Performance
Chocolate, especially the dark chocolate helps to improve athletic performance. Its ability to boost the availability of oxygen in the body is beneficial during fitness training. It’s been established that those people who took chocolate drinks or snack bars ended used less oxygen while cycling or running. Additionally, they ended up covering up more distance without easily getting fatigued. The epicatechins and flavanols that are found in dark chocolate promote the production of nitric oxide, leading to an overall improved performance.
3. Reduce Blood Cholesterol
Studies have established that those individuals who consume chocolate regularly have reduced blood cholesterol. Chocolate helps to lower the production of the bad cholesterol that is associated with a number of diseases including heart disease. The cocoa flavanols and the plant sterols that are found in the chocolate bars help to regulate the blood cholesterol. They promote the production of good cholesterol and reduce the production of bad cholesterol. By doing this, chocolate helps to establish well-balanced and healthy levels of blood cholesterol.
4. Reduced Chances Stroke
A study that was conducted on a group of individuals established that a single chocolate serving can eliminate the chances of stroke. Those people who take chocolate are about 25 percent less likely to get a stroke. Those who take about four ounces of chocolate per week have a 45 percent less risk of dying from stroke. Overall, chocolate has a long-term effect on men and women especially the elderly.
5. Eliminating the Risk of Heart disease
Medical research studies have established that the cocoa in chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s been found that people who consume it have lower chances of contracting heart problems by at least a third. Additionally, people who consume high amounts of chocolate are less likely to experience disorders such as the cardio-metabolic disorder.
6. Improved Mood
One common compound that is associated with good moods is cocoa. Chocolate contains cocoa which helps to improve moods. Additionally, studies have established that chocolate is a “happy” snack. Consuming it helps to promote the feeling of happiness by putting you in a good mood.
7. Supporting Fetal growth
Pregnant moms are usually advised to take at least one ounce of chocolate daily. This is because it helps to promote the growth and development of the fetus. Reports from research studies show that expectant moms who took chocolate had better pregnancy and they delivered healthier babies.
8. Reduces Symptoms of Coughs
The theobromine chemical that’s found in chocolate helps to reduce symptoms of coughs. It helps to suppress the vagus nerve. Note that this nerve is used to send signals to the brain from the central nervous system. By suppressing its effect, the affected person will end up with less coughs.
Rich Source of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate, just like unprocessed raw cocoa beans, contains the highest number of antioxidants. It’s loaded with nutritious and antioxidant-rich organic compounds that include catechins, flavanols, and polyphenols. These compounds help to fight the free radicals from the body which are associated with various diseases.
Side Effects of Chocolate
Chocolate is a high-calorie food that is rich in sugar. It is relatively safe and it can be consumed by both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. However, large amounts of chocolate in the body can cause:
• Increased weight gain due to the high amount of calories.
• Chocolate increases the consumer’s sugar intake, increasing chances of diabetes.
• It has been linked to acne
Where to Buy
Chocolate bars, smoothies, chips, and cookies can be purchased from supermarkets and other retail outlets. The products come under different price ranges. Besides that, they can be made from home as per an individual’s preferences.
Consumer reports indicate that the cocoa in chocolate has a lot of powerful benefits. However, as much as it has a lot of health benefits, chocolate should be consumed in moderate amounts. High intake can cause a number of health issues including acne, tooth decay and also weight gain. Apart from the bars, and cookies, chocolate can be used to prepare tea. If you want to eat chocolate, ensure that you choose the dark type that contains not less 70 percent of cocoa.