Although the chocolate we eat now is very different from the one that was first brought to Europe from South America in the 16th century, neither the Aztecs nor the current scientists have no doubts about the benefits of this treat. It has long been said that eating a little bit of chocolate can be healthy. So, what kind of chocolate to choose to improve your health?
Gift of Gods
For the Aztecs who lived in central Mexico, drinking cocoa was of great cultural and therapeutic significance. Cocoa was considered a cure for many illnesses such as fever, diarrhea, fatigue, angina, or tooth decay. The Aztecs believed that a divine elixir extracted from cocoa beans was a gift from the god of wind and wisdom. It is believed, this was a reason why the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1787) named the cocoa tree Theobroma Cacao. Because translated from ancient Greek, “theos” means “god” and “broma” means “food or goodies”. Cacao beans have a high concentration of biologically active substances called flavonols. They have a positive effect on various processes in the human body and can improve well-being, help get rid of free radicals that are associated with the emergence of various diseases.
However, the production process, when cocoa beans are made into chocolate bar, reduces the value of flavonols. According to research, natural cocoa powder contains 10 times more flavonols than cocoa, which has undergone this production process. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of flavonols. For example, 25 grams of chocolate containing more than 75 percent cocoa may contain about 80 milligrams of flavonols, and 25 grams of milk chocolate may contain only 10 milligrams of flavonols. The amount of flavonols in dark chocolate and cocoa can improve vascular elasticity, regulate blood pressure, can improve cognitive function, help protect the brain from free radical damage. Recent studies have shown that a high single dose of cocoa helps muscles recover after a hard workout.
Studies did not distinguish between types of chocolate (white, black, or milky). Current evidence suggests that dark chocolate, rich in polyphenols and low in sugar and fat, may be the healthiest. The current study also did not count how much fat, calories, and sugar were in the chocolate that the study participants ate. All of this is plentiful in the many chocolates and chocolates sold in the store. Too much sugar, certain types of fat, and excess calories are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, so no matter what the benefits of chocolate, it seems like you should eat it in moderation. Adequate amounts of chocolate appear to protect the coronary arteries, but large amounts can be harmful. The calories, sugar, milk, and fat in store-sold products are things to look out for, especially for people with diabetes or being overweight.
Researchers are not sure whether chocolate alone can improve heart health or other properties. The study did not consider different movement habits, which may affect people’s health more than snacks. Geographical location can also be an important factor. Some of the most chocolate-loving individuals live in European countries such as Switzerland, where attitudes toward health and exercise are very different from those in the U.S.