Dark choco­late can make you health­ier

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Lifestyle -

Most sci­en­tific stud­ies agree that an­tiox­i­dant-rich ca­cao pow­der and dark choco­late help to pro­tect the heart. Here is one more rea­son to stock up on the dark stuff at the Paris Salon du Choco­lat — a choco­late Fair which be­gins to­mor­row. Phos­pho­rus, mag­ne­sium, zinc, iron, cop­per and man­ganese: dark choco­late is packed with nu­tri­ents, min­er­als and trace el­e­ments that as­sist our im­mune sys­tem, fa­cil­i­tate meta­bolic pro­cesses and help with tis­sue growth.

Ca­cao beans are also rich in flavonoids, com­pounds that are found in plants and act as an­tiox­i­dants, mean­ing they com­bat free rad­i­cals in the body. There has been re­newed in­ter­est in study­ing flavonoids now that they are thought to act against can­cer. In July 2012, the Euro­pean Food Safety Author­ity (EFSA) said that daily con­sump­tion of 200mg of co­coa fla­vanols (con­tained in 10mg of dark choco­late with a high per­cent­age of ca­cao) was good for blood ves­sel elas­tic­ity, thereby im­prov­ing blood cir­cu­la­tion. Flavonoids also lower bad choles­terol (LDL) and im­prove blood clot­ting, thereby di­min­ish­ing the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. And vi­ta­min B3 re­duces arteryclog­ging, ac­cord­ing to the French Fed­er­a­tion of Car­di­ol­ogy.

Ac­cord­ing to a study fea­tured in the Euro­pean Heart Jour­nal, daily choco­late con­sump­tion pro­vides a re­duc­tion of 37% in car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, 48% in the risk of a stroke and 27% in the risk of a heart at­tack. Its pro­tec­tive ef­fects are thought to be achieved es­sen­tially by low­er­ing blood pres­sure, the main risk fac­tor in car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

Nev­er­the­less, it is bet­ter to opt for tra­di­tional choco­late manufacturing meth­ods, rather than those that re­duce the con­tri­bu­tion from flavonoids by adding ar­ti­fi­cial flavour­ings, preser­va­tives, dyes, tex­tur­ing agents and other sug­ary in­gre­di­ents. Premium dark choco­late con­tains at least 30% ca­cao pow­der, is less sweet and has su­pe­rior nu­tri­tional qual­i­ties. Milk choco­late only has 20% ca­cao and white choco­late does not have any.

It is worth bear­ing in mind that choco­late should be eaten in mod­er­a­tion as it is high in calo­ries. One hun­dred grams of dark choco­late is equiv­a­lent to 500 calo­ries, which is a quar­ter of our daily re­quire­ments.

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