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Dark Chocolate - A Food of Gods




Mmm... Chocolate is the go-to for a sweet treat and is unsurprisingly most people's favourite source of sugary goodness. From 50p bars and gooey fudge cake to thousands of pounds for a single chocolate egg, cocoa is an incredibly versatile ingredient when it comes to desserts and other famous recipes.


In this blog, we are going to highlight some of the benefits of chocolate and, unfortunately, some of the negatives if we overindulge. We'll also share a few facts about one of the world's most well-known foods.





Fun Facts


  • The scientific name of chocolate is basically 'Food of Gods.' This title was given to Chocolate in the mid-1700s by Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who came up with our system for classifying animal and plant species. However, the first consumption of Chocolate dates way back to 3,300BC, and a more 'modern form' of drinking chocolate became popular around 250 - 850 CE.

  • Apparently, in Britain amidst the 16th century, a shipment of chocolate arrived and we Britons thought it was actually sheep's poo! Can you believe it? They even disposed of it by burning the whole shipment.

  • In the 1930s, a box of chocolates was equivalent to about 10 weeks' rent! Chocolates were sold in handmade boxes with fancy ribbons, silk, lace, and tassels. Also, did you know, that some of our most popular bars of chocolate are over 100 years old, with Cadburys Flake, Fruit & Nut, and Crunchie being invented back in the 1920s!


So there you have it, a few fun facts about chocolate, so let's take a look at dark chocolate and see if the negative side effects outweigh the benefits of eating Chocolate.





What is it made from?


There are many different types of chocolate, so let's not confuse it as all being the same:

  • Milk chocolate has added cocoa butter, milk, and sugar.

  • Dark chocolate has less sugar and much larger quantities of cocoa.

  • White chocolate is made out of cocoa butter.


Benefits


The cocoa in dark chocolate contains flavonoids which are antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress in our cells and tissues. Over time oxidative stress may contribute to certain diseases such as Heart Health, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and certain cancers.


Dark chocolate also contains certain compounds, such as polyphenols and theobromine which may help to lower cholesterol in the body and contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body.


Being rich in Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. Zinc is an important aspect of nutrition helping regulate nerve functions and promote wound healing; Iron which helps to transport oxygen around the blood; Magnesium which helps with muscle and nerve functions, regulating blood pressure, and supporting the immune system!


Chocolate also has the 'feel good' factor giving us a rush of endorphins which lifts the mood when life just manages to get in the way! It also has a small amount of caffeine which can give you a boost in energy.





Negatives


Having too much of anything can lead to negative side effects, and this, unfortunately, includes dark chocolate.


Dark chocolate has 598 calories per 100g along with 42.6g of fat, including 24.5g of saturated fat and 24g of sugar! With such a high proportion of saturated fat and sugar, the 'Food of Gods' is also calorie dense and we all know, that if we consume too many calories that our body cannot burn, this turns into body fat, which leads to obesity, one of the biggest causes of other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart failure, and some cancers.


Dark Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants. People who are very sensitive to caffeine may experience insomnia if they eat dark chocolate or drink hot cocoa too close to bedtime. And if you love your coffee and chocolate, too much caffeine could have a negative effect on your health. High caffeine doses can cause major health issues, including irregular heartbeat and seizures, and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Consuming high caffeine on a regular basis can also possibly lead to hormonal imbalances.


Chocolate is acidic in nature and acidic foods tend to increase the acid in your stomach, causing acid reflux.





In Moderation


As with any high-calorie food, moderation is the key to keeping a healthy lifestyle. Treat yourself to having chocolate once in a while, or try mixing it with fruit in either brownies, cakes, flapjacks, or even a milkshake!


For regulatory advice for food products and label checking services, contact or visit: The Nutrient Gap where this article was curated from.



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