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Not all chocolate is created equal. A fact any chocolate lover would tell you. But the truth is, there are some proven health benefits for consuming dark chocolate over milk chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate will help keep the doctor away. Yet, how much should you eat every day to receive the full benefit?
To understand exactly what your daily dose of dark should be, let’s first look at the history of chocolate.
Chocolate consumption first became the rage when Spanish conquistadors brought it back from the Aztecs and Mayans to Europe in the 1600s. The Mayans roasted and ground up cacao beans into cocoa powder, added spices, and corn puree to create a warmed elixir called Mayesa. They believed it was a drink for the gods and used the delicious concoction in official ceremonies, important rituals, and for medicinal purposes. In some cases, there’s evidence the beans were also used as currency.
According to Louis Grivetti, a nutrition historian at the University of California, Davis, and reported in the Smithsonian, “Throughout history, chocolate is considered to be extremely healthful.”
The Aztecs and Mayans prescribed dark chocolate to treat infections, seizures, fevers, and other serious ailments. Manuscripts even suggest that Montezuma, the Aztec emperor of Mexico, used dark chocolate as a dietary supplement before visiting his wives.
The Europeans preferred their chocolate somewhat sweeter, inventing what would become known as “hot chocolate.” Nobility indulged on cocoa and dark chocolate way before the true chocolate health benefits were known. Fast forward a few hundred years and chocolate for many has become a passion that can’t be satiated.
For some, eating healthy foods doesn’t include dark chocolate, but recent studies point out that one dietary supplement to think about is adding a bar or two of dark to your daily eating habits.
Dark chocolate is not a junk food.
The Mayans and Aztecs realized this without the benefit of modern science. The cocoa content of dark chocolate includes a few important ingredients and one of them is flavonoids.
Flavonoids include antioxidants that help remove free radicals from the body. Thankfully, a cocoa bar contains these cancer-fighting agents in abundance.
Antioxidants have been getting a lot of good press in recent years. And for good reason. Some describe them as if they are a magic bullet to help reduce the risk of some serious ailments.
Studies suggest that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow, decreases blood sugar, helps prevent heart disease, and encourages weight loss. Hey, why not gift someone with a gift set of Chuao's dark chocolate bars!
Even though you can think of dark chocolate as a kind of health insurance, you need to be aware of how much you’re eating. One thing to keep in mind is that a little goes a long way. 6 grams (0.2 ounces) of dark chocolate per day will do the trick.
Although the Mayans consumed cupfuls believing in its chocolate elixir, it’s important to remember quality over quantity. Chuao Chocolatier's Spicy Maya will do the trick with its top ingredients and spicy sweetness. The Mayans themselves would have considered it chocolate for the gods. Another timeless favorite from our dark chocolage collection is Chuao's chocolate covered honeycomb bar!
If you really want to have some fun, pair dark chocolates with red wine and double your intake of antioxidants. You’ll be satisfied knowing you’re reducing the risk factors for cardiovascular disease while satisfying your sweet tooth.
Just as you need to consider the quantity and quality, you need to think of the percent of dark chocolate in the candy bar. The higher percentage of cocoa means more flavonoids rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and iron.
You want the amount of cocoa to be 70 percent or higher. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the bigger the health benefits.
Chuao Chocolatier doesn’t sacrifice your taste buds for health. You can consume dark chocolates high in cocoa, yet a perfect remedy for your dark chocolate addiction.
Something else to keep in mind is that white chocolate doesn’t contain chocolate solids (e.g. cocoa powder). It’s made up of cocoa butter, milk, sugar, and lecithin (a fatty emulsifier); technically not chocolate at all. So, remember the darker the better.
The same process for making cocoa powder, used by the Mayans hundreds of years ago, is still in vogue today. However, some manufacturers use Dutching, a process of alkalizing the chocolate.
Dutching changes the color of the chocolate and reduces the bitter taste, and in effect, lowering the flavonoids and their antioxidant power. When purchasing dark chocolate, check the label and if you see alkali mentioned, then it might not be the chocolate for you.
The Mayans and Aztecs created a brew of dark chocolate and spices. Modern-day chocolate-lovers could benefit from following in their chocolate footprints.
According to a study by Cornell University, the antioxidant levels in hot cocoa were three times higher than in green tea. Heating up dark chocolate releases a higher amount of antioxidants. Even though taking a nibble of dark chocolate helps lower disease risk and increases heart health, hot chocolate usually has less added sugar and overall fat content.
Even though there are many compelling reasons to eat dark chocolates, you need to be aware of calories. When choosing a dark chocolate, the fewer ingredients the better. Cocoa should be the first ingredient, not sugar.
If you want to induce chocolate happiness try Chuao’s Bon Bon Collection. You can satisfy your craving with a truffle or two without expanding your waist size.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to receive a high-dose of dark chocolate antioxidant power, rich enough to satisfy the most discerning palette. Here's a sneak peak of our factory as featured on a local San Diego news broadcast!