Chocolates contain anandamide, which as one might guess, comes from the Sanskrit word “ananda”, meaning happiness, joy and delight. Chocolates also contain the chemical compound phenylethylamine, which is said to enhance our feelings of love.
Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. Its earliest use dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica. After the European discovery of the Americas, chocolate became very popular in the wider world, and its demand exploded.
Chocolate has since become a popular food product that millions enjoy every day, thanks to its unique, rich, and sweet taste.
Facts on chocolate:
- Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and hypertension.
- Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants.
- Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.
- Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
- People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should eat chocolate only in moderation.
Eating chocolate may have the following benefits:
- Reduces stress:
Studies have found evidence that Polyphenols contained in cocoa used to prepare chocolates can reduce stress. Both dark chocolate and milk chocolate contain such polyphenols. Stress is said to signal an increase in oxidative damage to our systems. The antioxidants in chocolate neutralise this oxidative damage caused by free radicals and reduces stress.
- Beneficial for the brain and improve its function:
Chocolate contains flavanols, which are antioxidant molecules that help in the optimisation of our brain’s functions and potential. Flavonols protect the neurons in the brain and increase our cognitive abilities concerning memory and learning. A study of healthy volunteers showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain.
- Reduces risk of heart diseases:
As per research, consumption of dark chocolate, in particular, has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Dark chocolate keeps our blood vessels dilated and aids in normal blood flow.Yet another study showed that eating dark chocolate more than 5 times per week lowered the risk of heart disease by 57% .
- Protects the kidneys:
Dark chocolate was found to have protective effects on our kidneys. The flavanols in dark chocolate help maintain proper renal tissue oxygenation which is essential for the functioning of the kidneys.
Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others. One study showed that dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavonoids.
- Protect the Skin from the Sun:
The bioactive compounds in dark chocolate may also be great for the skin. The flavanol’s can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration. Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage.
The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, and so, in theory, the higher the level of antioxidants there will be in the bar.
However, nutrients vary widely in commercially available chocolate bars, depending on the brand and type you choose. It is best to check the label if you want to be sure of the nutrients.