Some call the chocolate a sweet drug, and you can become addicted to chocolate. I love chocolate for the wonderful taste and smell. But also, because it improves the mood, adds energy, and eliminates fatigue.
But chocolate is more than just a sweet drug bringing us pleasure on sad days. It turns out that chocolate also has health benefits.
Chocolate has over 600 substances that have a positive effect on health. Thanks to them chocolate has many properties and health benefits. Some of those substances protect against diseases, stimulate the immune system, improve mood, and even – as it turns out – protect against caries.
Today, science confirms what Aztec warriors already knew (they refreshed themselves with a cocoa powder drink before the battle). For decades, the amazing properties of chocolate have been admired, but later chocolate became infamous as some scientist blamed it for raising cholesterol, spoiling teeth, fattening and being generally unhealthy.
In the US, special chocolate treatments, which treat fatigue, apathy, and nervous exhaustion are getting more popular. Relaxing baths in chocolate attract dozens of patients to Bad Eisenkappel, a spa town in southwestern Austria.
The cosmetologists working there claim that cocoa butter, which is the basic ingredient of chocolate, has rejuvenating properties and prevents the formation of wrinkles.
Natural chocolate is rich in valuable substances:
Phenylethylamine – belongs to the group of endorphins. When endorphins enter the bloodstream, they improve mood, stimulate positive energy and bring feelings from mild happiness to euphoria, often occurring in athletes
Flavonoids – they inhibit the oxidation process of the so-called bad cholesterol, increase immunity to infections, take part in the regulation of muscle and vessel cramps – they make sure the platelets did not stick together. These compounds can also be found in apples, almonds, grapes or wine, but nowhere are as many as in cocoa beans.
White and milk chocolate due to the addition of condensed milk also has protein, which is a factor in the growth and regeneration of the body and calcium – important for muscle performance and proper functioning of the nervous system, enzymes, and blood clotting.
The 100-gram chocolate bar has about 530 to 580 kcal. A small piece of chocolate weighs 6 g and has 32-35 kcal.
• 100 g of dark chocolate has 531 kcal;
• 100 g milk chocolate filled with nuts has 539 kcal;
• 100 g of dark chocolate has 554 kcal;
• 100 g of white chocolate has 578 kcal;
• a glass of hot chocolate about 150 kcal
Recent studies by US medical centers say that after drinking chocolate, the activity of platelets decreases, they show less tendency to stick together, that is, it prevents blood clots and reduces the risk of heart attack.
The ingredients in chocolate make the blood vessels walls more flexible, counteracting, among others, vessel congestion. The polyphenols included in the cocoa beans improve the work of the circulatory system. These compounds relax the blood vessels (which eases blood flow), neutralize the action of the so-called bad cholesterol and prevent the formation of blood clots. According to the scientists, eating about one-third of a dark chocolate bar a day protects against heart disease.
Chocolate increases the level of antioxidants in the blood- they slow down the aging process by protecting the body from free radicals damaging cells and conducive to heart disease and cancer. This effect is however seen only in people who eat dark chocolate.
Chocolate has a lot of ingredients that raise the level of serotonin in the blood – the hormone responsible for a good mood. It adds vigor and improves mood. In 100g of dark chocolate, there is as much as 300mg of magnesium, which has a beneficial effect on the nervous system – improves mental performance, improves nerve conduction.
Research conducted by a group of scientists from Helsinki showed that chocolate improves the mood of future mothers, and thus positively affects the development of the fetus. According to them, the children of mothers who ate regular dark chocolate during pregnancy are happier and more active.
Of all the sweets chocolate is the least dangerous for teeth. Recent reports show that it has substances that prevent caries. This was discovered by the Japanese scientists, who are now working on a new toothpaste enriched with cocoa extracts.
However, like all chocolate sweets, it has carbohydrates which, when decomposed, damage the teeth. But because chocolate stays in the mouth for a brief time, it dissolves quickly and is immediately swallowed, it is less harmful than, e.g., caramels or toffee sweets. For safety, however, it is worth to brush your teeth thoroughly after eating chocolate sweets.
Chocolate can be the basis of new cough medicine – experts at Imperial College in London say. Theobromine contained in chocolate during the preliminary tests proved to be effective as an antitussive drug.
With all the benefits that chocolate brings to our health, it also has some disadvantages. It can cause a migraine and worsen the mood of women suffering from premenstrual syndrome.
People with a sensitive digestive tract should also carefully see their reactions after eating chocolate. Chocolate can induce heartburn, exacerbate symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
It should also be remembered chocolate promotes constipation, so people who have a low-key lifestyle and are prone to constipation should give up chocolates. They can, however, experiment with drinking chocolate, which to a lesser extent intensifies these problems.
The chocolate should also be crossed out by people suffering from kidney and bladder diseases. It has salts of oxalic acid, which can accumulate in the body in the form of kidney stones and urinary stones.
But the biggest drawback of chocolate is its calorific value – the bar has an energy value of approx. 500 kcal, which is like a solid meal. People with a tendency to overweight must count calories accurately while eating chocolate.
Chocolate – two of its important ingredients: cocoa and protein – is on the list of strong food allergens.
It is estimated that people with a tendency to allergies constitute approx. 25 percent of the population, and among them five out of one hundred responds badly to chocolate.
This is most often the case with atopic dermatitis (in children it may initially show a slight rash on the cheeks, later the skin becomes rough, dry).
To find out what we are allergic to, we also carry out so-called natural provocation. Only the product suspected of causing sensitization is served for breakfast, e.g., chocolate.
If you get itchy skin, blemishes, hay fever or shortness of breath, you have the evidence that the allergy occurred. Sometimes you can see these symptoms after only 15 minutes, but it also happens that they will occur only on the next day.
For such a test to be reliable, it should be performed during the period when you do not take any desensitizing medications.
What is the secret of the irresistible charm of chocolate, which sometimes leads to addiction?
Scientists recently found that cocoa beans have substances that reminiscent of chemical compounds present in marijuana leaves.
They act as molecules that carry signals in brain cells, and their reception leads to addiction. They are so-called alkaloids (including morphine, caffeine, cocaine, atropine, and quinine) that affect nerve cells.
The same chemicals were also discovered in wine and beer. According to the researchers, the alkaloids themselves will not make you a chocolate junkie. There are 2 more reasons why some people cannot resist the chocolate – cocoa beans aroma and chocolate’s unusual taste.
Although chocolate does not have substances that act as aphrodisiacs, it can work as one.
Casanova was drinking chocolate instead of champagne, claiming that it was the real love potion. Perhaps this is why it has become one of the components of the famous aphrodisiac known as the “Spanish Fly.” Chocolate was also one of the main specialties served at the Marquis de Sade balls.
Currently, scientists tend to say that the taste and smell of chocolate cause a feeling of pleasure and that is greatly beneficial to the nervous system. And when we experience pleasure, the body’s immune system is also strengthened. Remember, stress is the enemy of sex.
So, the relaxing properties of chocolate combined with caffeine can work as an aphrodisiac.