Published: 12/31/2014 - Updated: 10/28/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
Delightful, irresistible and addictive. It brings well-being and raises moods and vitality. What is it? No, it’s not love, but chocolate. One of the most pleasing foods for the human palate because, not only does it produce pleasant sensations, it also stimulates love’s friends, called endorophins. These substances are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus which, along with several other functions, are in charge of producing the sensation of well-being, pleasure, and excitement in human beings.
One of chocolate’s greatest virtues is that it creates aphrodisiac and analgesic effects in the body, regardless of whether it is dark, white, milk, has sugar or not. Chocolate in itself contains virtues and properties that have benefited several cultures since the unforgettable Aztec times.
What is chocolate?
It is a food that is obtained by mixing cacao seeds that have been ground into a paste with cacao butter, with other products, like milk, white sugar, caffeine, additives, preservatives, dried fruit, etc. In this case, we are going to analyze the wonders of cacao or pure or dark chocolate, without being mixed with other components.
The virtues of dark, bitter, or pure chocolate (cacao)
- Eliminates fatigue
- Improves concentration
- Has powerful antioxidant effects
- In spite of its bad reputation, chocolate satiates the body by helping to not have to eat every few hours, which makes it very helpful in weight loss diets! Especially if you prefer bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, or low sugar chocolate (not light, or chocolate that has additional dietary sugar, which is actually more harmful than common sugar).
- Contains a lot of magnesium, which helps relax muscles and form new cells, like repairing DNA.
- Has properties that facilitate blood circulation, helping keep a healthy heart.
- Chocolate produces serotonin, a substance that helps diminish depression and return calmness. It is said that chocolate can substitute sex because it alleviates unpleasant sensations in the body, like abandonment, rejection, and love-sickness.
- Chocolate is rich in calcium which, among other things, prevents and fights osteoporosis.
- It’s high magnesium content calms anxiety.
- Contains minerals like iron and zinc, which prevent and fight anemia.
- It’s high content of phosphorus, calcium, and antibacterial agents help prevent cavities and keep the bone system healthy, including tendons and joints.
- Dark or bitter chocolate accelerates the metabolism, which is how it helps weight loss.
- Cacao’s high antioxidant content reduces the formation of free radicals that cause cancer, premature aging, withered skin, etc.
- Contains vegetable fats which are not harmful, but that rather, help the nervous system stay healthy. It does not increase cholesterol nor triglycerides, and it is wonderful for weight because this product does not cause weight gain, but quite the opposite! It helps maintain a good body weight. So why the bad rap? Because the sugar and milk that it contains.
- It has lots of fiber and iron, which equal that of one apple or one slice of whole grain bread!
- Bitter chocolate is rich in flavonoids.
- Chocolate prevents colon cancer, fights cholesterol and protects against heart attacks.
- Chocolate also releases stress and produces a sensation similar to that of being in love in the body.
How to eat chocolate healthfully
Chocolate is full of wonders, cacao tastes very bitter which a lot of people don’t like if it isn’t mixed with other products, like refined sugar, caffeine, milk, etc. This gives it an irreplaceable consistency and taste.
One of the ingredients that makes chocolate very harmful to health is the refined sugar it contains. The best thing to do to make chocolate an inseparable friend and to get rid of the guilt that comes along with eating it, is to try to consume bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, which contains less sugar and less harmful effects on the nervous and hormonal system. Whenever you eat a lot of pure or dark chocolate, the worst that can happen to you is that it produces a laxative effect. The point is that if you eat it with a bunch of sugar, then it turns into excess body weight. The sugar also slowly irritates and wears down your nervous system which creates states of quick and abundant energy in the body, due to the rapid absorption os simple carbohydrates. But if this is continually repeated, the body will become susceptible to suffering from more and more serious nervous imbalances, affecting emotions and provoking irritability, anxiety, stress, etc. So the problem of eating too much chocolate lies in the sugar and other substances that are added to it, and not the chocolate itself. This first problem is resolved by reducing consumption of chocolate with added sugar.
On the other hand, you must keep in mind that a lot of market produced chocolates contain not only sugar, but skim milk, phenylethylamine and theobromine, compounds that could be very harmful to systems. Chocolate also contains caffeine, and although this comes in small doses, it is a very addictive substance that creates strong stimulating effects that could be very harmful in large doses when too much chocolate is consumed. Caffeine also raises blood acidity, among other things, and if this acidity level becomes too high or is frequent or prolonged, one becomes more prone to suffering from a lot of illnesses, obesity, etc.
Caffeine and chocolate
If you consume more than 80 mg of caffeine a day in the form of chocolate, or a large bar of chocolate with added sugar or other substances, your body temperature will increase, which will create a good area to incubate bacteria and germs. Your respiratory rhythm will also increase along with the level of gastric acid in your stomach, which could cause ulcers or stomach problems. This could even cause cancer, because these substances usually wear down cells and tissues. All these substances that are added to chocolate also could cause headaches and other minor symptoms that are not associated to chocolate consumption, and that don’t seem overly important.
To avoid all this, it is important that you use the most natural chocolate possible. You can buy it in health food stores, and take a good look at the label. This should indicate the ingredients. Make sure it is not mixed with these substances, and that it is as pure as possible.
Is diet chocolate okay?
No. Diet chocolate contains artificial sugar which is much more harmful than normal sugar. Diet sugar is so chemically manipulated that it affects the body’s metabolism over time, along with a long of its functions. You’ll see how when you eat diet sugar, the body will start to look for the sugar or energy that it has supposedly consumed, but it won’t find any! This means that you have eaten “ghost” energy, which seems not to affect the body, but over time it imbalances the body and causes a lot of disorders within it. It’s best to consume low-sugar chocolate (which doesn’t contain much added sugar), like bitter or semi-sweet chocolate.
Is white chocolate good?
White chocolate is chocolate that has undergone several refinement processes, and also contains a lot of sugar and harmful added substances. It is high in calories due to the sugar it contains, it does not contain fiber, and the vitamins that it could contain are generally added artificially. It also does not contain as much iron as pure or dark chocolate.
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Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 10/28/2018
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