It is possible to eat a healthy diet with 1 to 2 ounces of dark chocolate per day. Do not you believe it? Well, keep reading and find out everything!
If there is a food that deserves the category of a superfood, it is chocolate, or as it is known by its scientific name: theobroma cacao. Translated it would come to say "food of the gods". And it is that 2,000 years before Christ, chocolate was considered by the cultures of Central America as a divine gift. Its value was such that it was then also used as a bargaining chip. This vision is far from what we consider chocolate today. It is common for many people to wonder if it has a place in a healthy diet since chocolate is present in all kinds of processed products loaded with sugars and even palm oil.
If there is something that everyone who wants to lose weight or take care of himself gives up, it is the consumption of chocolate, but does this restriction make sense? If we like it a lot, should we forget about this food to be healthy? Fortunately, there are many studies on chocolate or failing that, cocoa, let's see what they say.
Benefits of eating chocolate:
Cocoa powder is the ingredient that interests us when analyzing the benefits of chocolate. It should be noted that these benefits are not found in all types of chocolates, but in those that are purest, which is also known as dark chocolate. Then we will talk about what percentage is recommended for the chocolate to be healthy, but now let's look for excuses to consume it:
- Lowers blood pressure.
- It helps the production of nitric oxide.
- Reduces cognitive decline in adults and improves memory.
- Reduces insulin resistance.
- Protects against prolonged exposure to the sun.
- It improves the lipid profile, that is, its consumption is associated with a lower percentage of body fat.
- It increases good cholesterol (HDL) and reduces the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL).
All these benefits of cocoa are obtained due to its high content of epicatechin, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties that is also present in green tea. Catechin and procyanidins are also flavonoids found in cocoa, and all of these antioxidants in cocoa are often said to be superior to those found in fruits like grapes.
What percentage of cocoa does chocolate have to have to be healthy?
On the one hand, the answer to this question is that not everything we find as "chocolate" is healthy. As we had already dropped at the beginning, the ingredient that we are interested in taking advantage of is cocoa. However, most of the chocolates sold in large stores are milk with sugar and a little cocoa (between 30-35%)
Therefore, the greater the presence of cocoa in the chocolate, the healthier it will be. Consequently, it will also be less sweet and more bitter on the palate, but you will be consuming real chocolate, with all the antioxidants that we mentioned a few lines above.
Chocolate is healthy and has a place in a healthy diet made from 70% pure cocoa. Luckily, if you look closely at the labels, it is not difficult to find tablets with this percentage of cocoa, some options contain nuts, roasted cocoa nibs, or even dehydrated fruit.
A recommendation that comes in handy to make the leap from milk chocolate to dark chocolate is to start with the one that contains 70% cocoa until the palate gets used to it and go up to 85% pure cocoa, the ideal amount to consume in a healthy diet. You will see that once you get the taste of cocoa, you will not want to go back to milk chocolate.
What is moderate consumption of chocolate in a healthy diet?
Aristotle said that virtue is in the middle, and how could it be otherwise, to take advantage of the virtues of chocolate we should consume it in moderation, even if we take the one that has 70% pure cocoa. And this can indeed be a challenge for many people.
Chocolate consumption is associated with a term known as emotional hunger. It is about the intake that occurs in a situation of stress or mood changes in which cravings are resorted to, which, as a rule, are usually foods high in calories and poor in nutrients. Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger, the hunger we feel when we need to eat.
A binge on dark chocolate is not going to bring you better health, even with so many benefits. Probably, it is an extra contribution of calories that, if repeated for several days and accompanied by high-calorie foods, can lead to weight gain.
Therefore, consuming between 1-2 ounces of dark chocolate a day is more than enough so that you do not have to give up this delicacy within a healthy diet, at the same time that you take advantage of all its benefits.