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Dark Chocolate: A Sweet Treat With Amazing Health Benefits!


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We all know that just about everyone loves chocolate. You might be asking, what could possibly make it better? How about some amazing health benefits to go along with it! While white and milk chocolate may give you mental health benefits by feeling joy when you eat it, the amount of sugar and saturated fat means it can be great as an occasional treat, but it may not be suitable as a main course. Luckily for everyone, dark chocolate can be an entirely different story!

There is a long list of health benefits from eating dark chocolate that we will get to, but first let’s discuss how it differs from milk and white chocolate.

What are the three main types of chocolate?

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There are three main types of chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. As for their differences, it all comes down to how they are made during the production process. The ratio of cocoa butter (the fat, which is a natural part of the cocoa bean) and chocolate liquor (which is the semi-solid cocoa mass) that is contained in chocolate, in comparison to the percentage of sugar, milk solids, and other key ingredients, is what determines the type of chocolate that is produced.

Chocolate liquor, or unsweetened chocolate is the basis of all types of chocolate. Cacao nibs (the crushed cocoa beans) are made into a thick, dark chocolate paste, which are ground until smooth. This paste is melted into a liquid that can be made into bars or chips.

Chocolate liquor contains only chocolate. Applying high pressure separates this mixture into cocoa butter and cocoa powder (also called cocoa solids). Despite the name, chocolate liquor contains no alcohol.

White chocolate is missing one key ingredient, cocoa solids. It consists mostly of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. It’s what is missing that actually gives white chocolate its unique color, flavor and texture. White chocolate typically contains a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter, a 55 percent sugar maximum and around 15 percent milk solids.

Milk chocolate is easily the world’s most popular type of chocolate. This is made by combining cocoa solids and cocoa butter (chocolate liquor) with milk and sugar. By the United States Food and Drug Administration’s standards, milk chocolate must contain at least 10 percent chocolate liquor and 12 percent milk.

Dark chocolate is made with only two main ingredients: chocolate liquor and sugar. Many dark chocolate bars are plant-based and some can also be technically considered vegan, if there is no milk added. By FDA standards, dark chocolate must contain at least 15 percent chocolate liquor. Many dark chocolate bars contain around 50 percent, with some going well above 70, 80 and even 90 percent cacao.

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So, what are some key dark chocolate benefits?

While dark chocolate is not as healthy as, let’s say spinach, kale or broccoli, its benefits certainly outweigh those of other foods in the dessert category.

Dark chocolate contains a plethora of nutrients that can be beneficial for your overall health. When dark chocolate is enjoyed in moderation it can reduce stress, help fight diabetes, improve brain function, balance your immune system and help promote a healthy heart. Let’s discuss some of these potential health benefits in greater detail.

Here are 6 reasons that you should consider eating dark chocolate as a regular part of your diet:

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1. Dark chocolate is a great source of essential minerals and vitamins.

Eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa content will give you a generous serving of soluble fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, theobromine, selenium and zinc. There are also many heart-healthy fatty acids, like oleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid.

2. Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants.

A 2011 study in Chemistry Central Journal found that dark chocolate contains the most concentrated form of antioxidants than other “super foods” including acai, blueberries, pomegranate and cranberries. The antioxidant level was measured by testing the oxygen radical absorbance capacity, or ORAC. This is where researchers set a bunch of free radicals against the foods and then see how well they can disarm the free radicals.

Dark chocolate also contains many antioxidant-rich chemical components. Polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins are examples. According to studies, dark chocolate polyphenols may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol when coupled with other high quality foods like almonds.

3. Dark Chocolate can help lower the risk of heart disease.

One of the key health benefits of eating chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is that it can play a role in improving your heart health. Not only can eating dark chocolate help someone with high blood pressure, it also can reduce the risk of blood clotting, and increase the blood flow to the heart which can lower your risk for a stroke and other forms of heart disease.

The chemicals in dark chocolate help your body produce nitric oxide, which causes your blood vessels to relax, which can help lower your blood pressure. Although these findings sound promising, more research is needed to determine the actual health benefits when it comes to chocolate and your heart. Much of the research that has been performed indeed does show great potential.

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4. Eating dark chocolate can help combat type 2 diabetes.

Since dark chocolate is one of the highest sources of polyphenols of any food, it can help improve insulin sensitivity, which could possibly prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Another study showed that people who ate chocolate at least once per week had a lower prevalence of diabetes and remained at a lower risk to develop diabetes 4 to 5 years later.

5. Dark chocolate can help people who have high cholesterol.

Your cholesterol levels are measured by two numbers: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Having too much “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and not enough “good” cholesterol (HDL) can cause it to build up in your arteries. This can significantly increase your risk for various types of heart disease.

A 2021 meta-analysis of observational studies shows that eating dark chocolate can result in a significant reduction of LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids found in dark chocolate can also help HDL functioning through reduced inflammation from the antioxidant effects.

6. Dark chocolate can help boost brain function and elevate your mood.

With the increased blood flow, more blood goes into the brain and this can help maintain or improve cognitive function in older adults. Since dark chocolate helps maintain glucose function in the body, cognitive function can become enhanced, although more research is needed to accurately test those claims.

Finally, since eating chocolate helps stimulate the pleasure and reward centers of your brain, it can help decrease stress, which will elevate your overall mood.

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While there certainly are a great many potential health benefits to eating dark chocolate, remember that there can be too much of a good thing. That is why it is always important to enjoy any candy, including dark chocolate in moderation.

There are always many healthy ways to enjoy a moderate amount of dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet. If you’re having a hard time controlling what you eat, consider seeking advice from a qualified health care professional, like your family physician, licensed nutritionist, or a registered dietitian.

We hope you have enjoyed our review of just some of the many health benefits that can be derived from dark chocolate consumption. At Redstone Foods we take our chocolate very seriously and are proud to feature a lineup of nearly 300 different dark chocolate products from all over the world.

If you’re curious about becoming a customer, please sign up for an account online, or give us a call. Our dedicated customer service representatives will be able to assist you in all of your candy wholesale needs. We hope to hear from you soon!