Dark chocolate is a form of confectionery made without milk solids and has more taste of chocolate. It is more prone to a dry, chalky texture and a bitter aftertaste due to deficiency of milk additives.
How does dark chocolate help in fighting cardiovascular diseases?
Routine body functions such as physical activity, breathing or inhalation of smoke and environmental pollutants produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) in our body. The ROS interact with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite, eventually lowering the availability of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide is a gas synthesized in our body which plays a crucial role in preventing artery blockage and atherogenesis by:
- Acting as a vasodilator modulating the dilation of blood vessels for uninterrupted blood flow
- Protecting blood vessels from injurious consequences of WBC and cells circulating in the blood
- Controlling the cell growth with the vessels
- Ensures adequate removal of fats and cholesterol from the arteries
Thus, the reduced availability of nitric oxide in the body hampers the above processes leading to plague deposits and artery blockage, which further develops into coronary heart diseases.
The production of ROS is moderated within the body with the help of antioxidants. Cocoa beans happen to be rich in a class of powerful plant antioxidants known as flavonoids.
Apart from anti-oxidant properties, cocoa also helps:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve blood flow to the heart and brain
- Enhance platelet function
- Restore flexibility of arteries
- Prevent white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels
Are all chocolates beneficial?
Chocolates which are higher in cocoa content and lack milk additives are beneficial for the heart. The more chocolate is processed, the more flavanols are lost. Therefore, every chocolate in the confectionery is not healthy for you with an exception of dark chocolate due to its lowest concentration of processed sugar and absence of milk additives. Beware of chewy, caramelized and nut-covered dark chocolate, as this is in no way good for you due to lots of fats and calories from those extra ingredients.
How much dark chocolate is recommended?
In a recent study, researchers determined that eating 100 grams of dark chocolate every day could potentially prevent 15 fatal cardiovascular events. There are no particular recommendations stating the daily intake of dark chocolate but some diet committees advise consumption of around 25 to 30 grams of dark chocolate per day (28.3 grams) to combat cardiovascular attacks.
Ideal tips for consumption of dark chocolate
- To avoid consumption of excess of dark chocolate, eat it after a full meal
- Eating a piece of fruit before having dark chocolate can help satisfy your sweet craving
- When buying a chocolate, select bars with higher cocoa content
People sensitive to caffeine should be aware of the fact that dark chocolate contains caffeine. It also contains oxalates which may play an important factor in developing kidney stones especially in people who are prone to kidney stone formation.