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Friday, December 9th
Everybody loves chocolate. However, as with any food product, you want to know whether or not it's healthy. After all, even though you may enjoy chocolate, you don't want to eat too much of the stuff if it might put your health in jeopardy. You care about your body, and you want to preserve your long-term health, so check out this quick guide on the pros and cons of eating chocolate.
What Are the Three Major Types of Chocolate?
Everybody has a different sense of taste. Some people like their treats to be as sweet as possible, and others prefer more complex flavors. Luckily, chocolate products have an incredibly diverse array of flavors and characteristics, so there's a type of chocolate for almost anyone. However, when it comes to your health, some kinds of chocolate are better than others. The list below details the flavor profiles and basic nutritional traits of the three most common types of chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than any other kind of chocolate. It tends to be somewhat bitter, but its flavor is complex. Often, chocolatiers combine dark chocolate with nuts, spices, and other flavors to add extra layers of depth to their products. Dark chocolate contains less sugar, milk, and oils than other types of chocolate, so it's usually the least calorie-dense variety of chocolate. Moreover, because cocoa contains antioxidants and other beneficial substances, dark chocolate has a lot of unique health benefits.
Most dark chocolate products feature a percentage on their packaging. This percentage indicates the degree to which cocoa contributes to the product's weight. A higher percentage means that a product contains more cocoa. Thus, a product with a higher percentage will likely taste more bitter than a product with a lower percentage.
White chocolate is the least healthy variety of chocolate. This is because it is full of milk, sugar, and oil. White chocolate contains less cocoa than any other variety, so it lacks many of the health benefits of dark chocolate and milk chocolate. White chocolate is also very calorie-dense, so you shouldn't have too much in one sitting. The flavor of white chocolate can be described as light and sweet, so it's the most suitable type of chocolate for people who can't stand bitterness.
Milk chocolate stands in the middle ground between dark chocolate and white chocolate. It contains a more balanced blend of cocoa, milk, and sugar than the other varieties of chocolate. As a result, it retains much of the unique flavor of cocoa without being too bitter. Milk chocolate is the most common variety of chocolate in candy bars and other chocolate-based products. Therefore, if someone hands you a random chocolate-related product, there's a good chance that it contains milk chocolate. Although milk chocolate has fewer calories than white chocolate, it's still very calorie-dense, so you shouldn't eat too much of it.
Benefits of Chocolate Consumption
Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine, so a bite of chocolate can give you a little extra energy to face the day. However, unlike coffee or tea, chocolate contains calories. Therefore, if you need caffeine to get through the day, then chocolate shouldn't be your only source of the stuff. Cocoa is the source of chocolate's caffeine content. Thus, since dark chocolate has more cocoa than milk chocolate and white chocolate, it will also contain more caffeine than those varieties.
Cocoa causes the brain to produce endorphins, an important hormone that reduces pain and promotes positive emotions. Chocolate contains cocoa, so is chocolate the key to happiness? As with most of the other benefits of chocolate, the effect depends on which variety you consume. White chocolate contains very little cocoa in comparison to dark chocolate, so it won't cause your body to produce nearly as many endorphins.
However, if you like white chocolate more than dark chocolate, then you should eat white chocolate anyway. While endorphins may make you happy, you don't need to force yourself to eat a certain kind of chocolate to put a smile on your face. The rich flavor of your favorite chocolate treat will be good enough to boost your mood. Of course, when eating any kind of chocolate, make sure to enjoy it in moderation.
Dark chocolate contains a ton of antioxidants, and antioxidants are extremely important for cleaning up your body's systems and reducing inflammation. Antioxidants can reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, and minimize joint damage. Nonetheless, although dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, it's not a miracle cure. You can't offset an entire pizza and a side of fries with a piece of chocolate. However, if you already have a relatively healthy diet, then an occasional piece of dark chocolate will only make things better.
Did you know that chocolate can improve your complexion? Not only will eating chocolate help repair your skin cells, but it can even save you from a bad sunburn. However, sugar and milk can aggravate acne and other skin conditions, so it is better to eat dark chocolate, which contains little sugar and milk, if you want healthier skin.
Decreased Risk of Diabetes
Research has shown that individuals who consume 100 grams of chocolate per day are less likely to develop diabetes. This is because chocolate contains flavonoids, which reduce insulin resistance. Flavonoids are also known to promote liver health, so a little bit of chocolate every day can help your body stay clean and work more efficiently. Because liver problems and diabetes can be very expensive to treat, a little dark chocolate every day might save you a ton of money in medical costs.
Chocolate is full of iron, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals that your body needs to function properly. Without these minerals, you may feel weak, tired, or lightheaded, so a handy bar of chocolate can turn your day around. While these minerals are important, overconsumption of any mineral may interfere with your body's absorption of other nutrients, so you should always remember to eat a balanced diet.
Potential Risks of Chocolate Consumption
Chocolate contains a lot of calories, so if you eat a lot of chocolate, then you can expect to gain weight. Obesity may lead to joint damage, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, organ failure, and a host of other health problems. Therefore, you should limit your consumption of chocolate and pay close attention to nutrition labels.
Although chocolate might decrease your risk of diabetes, you need to practice moderation to see any benefits. If you habitually eat a ton of chocolate, then your blood sugar will spike, and your body will release a lot of insulin. Consequently, your body will become more resistant to the effects of insulin, which could eventually result in diabetes.
Healthy teeth are an important part of a healthy life. When you eat sugary products, you're increasing your risk of tooth decay. Some chocolate products are very high in sugar, so you should keep that in mind when you reach for your next chocolate bar. Rotten teeth aren't only painful and unsightly, but they can also be very expensive to fix. Therefore, if you consume a lot of chocolate, then you should maintain proper oral hygiene and ask your dentist for the best tips to protect your teeth.
Because chocolate contains caffeine, you may inadvertently develop a caffeine addiction by regularly consuming chocolate products. Signs of caffeine addiction include insomnia, migraines, irritability, and bruxism. If you notice any of these symptoms, then you may want to consider reducing your chocolate intake.
What About Chocolate-Flavored Products?
Chocolate ice creams, syrups, candy bars, and other chocolate-flavored products typically contain a lot of sugar and other additives. Thus, these products are usually worse for you than a bar of dark chocolate. Moreover, some of these products don't contain any cocoa, so they don't provide any of the health benefits of regular chocolate. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't enjoy these products once in a while. You just need to read product labels and regulate your consumption to mitigate any negative health effects of sugary chocolate-flavored products.
What's the Verdict?
Like most things, chocolate is fine in moderation, so just don't get too carried away with it. Dark chocolate is the healthiest variety of chocolate, but you can still enjoy an occasional morsel of white chocolate or milk chocolate. Almost all of the bad effects of chocolate are easily avoidable. If you notice any negative effects, then you can easily decide to eat less chocolate. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you're happy and feel good when you consume your favorite chocolate treat. Thus, as long as you're not eating chocolate with every meal, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
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