Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, a sure-fire stand-by in times of stress, a reliable source of consolation when life has let us down, and a mood-enhancer and romance-inducer in more positive circumstances.
But is it at all healthy?
If you scoff lots of it, obviously not.
But there are a host of medically proven ways in which chocolate — good chocolate, which is to say dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of around seventy per cent or more — really is good for us.
Research is continuing all the time, and experts have already found that chocolate is good for the heart, circulation and brain, and it has been suggested that it may be beneficial in such major heath challenges as autism, obesity and diabetes.
And in fact, the very latest research suggests that eating chocolate could help keep your brain function whirring into old age.
Here are eleven scientifically established health benefits of good chocolate:
Dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as magnesium and copper.
These minerals aid in regulating normal blood pressure and subsequently maintaining proper heartbeat levels.
Eating a delicious piece of chocolate can possibly reduce stress levels; it works by stimulating the production of endorphins that may give rise to a happy feeling.
In addition, the dark variety of chocolate contains stimulants such as theobromine and caffeine, which are major stimulants.
Eating dark chocolate not only relaxes the body, but also makes the blood vessels more flexible. It also boosts the functioning of the endothelial cells that line the blood cells.
It also decreases the risk of developing innumerable cardiovascular diseases.
Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
It has been medically proven to reduce the bad cholesterol levels in the human body significantly, up to 10-12%.
Dark chocolate has a high level of Catechins, which boosts the human body’s immune system and possibly prevents major chronic ailments.
Good for Anemia:
The flavonoid compounds are useful in treating anemic patients as well as those having poor dietary habits.
Rich in Antioxidants:
Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant.
Reports from the National Institute of Food & Nutrition Research in Italy suggests that these antioxidants actually neutralize free radicals and other dangerous molecules that may be potential health hazards, causing diseases like cancer, premature aging, and heart disease.
The serotonin level in dark chocolate may act as an effective anti-depressant. It contains serotonin, which has nearly identical qualities of anti-depressants.
Even a small intake of dark chocolate boosts vascular health. It contains a lot of polyphenols and antioxidants.
The antioxidants present in dark chocolate helps in fighting against premature aging. The antioxidants also help in fighting against heart diseases.
One of the most exciting health benefits of dark chocolate is that it helps in enhancing the production of endorphins, which result in the generation of feelings of pleasure in human beings.
For chocolate lovers all over the world, the main manufacturers and chocolate wholesalers have responded to the health benefits of dark chocolate by enlightening the customers on its tremendous health potential.
It, with its cocoa content, mineral sources, and Gallic acid, provide protection against LDL oxidation.
Medical research has observed a moderate reduction in blood pressure levels after daily consumption of 100 grams of delightful dark chocolate. Basically, find some dark chocolate and enjoy!
The health benefits of dark chocolate are plentiful, and there are more being discovered all the time.
It should be noted however that all of the dark chocolate that was studied was high in cacao content. You should be looking for cacao content up and above the 80% range.
Milk chocolate is a no-no. Make sure your dark chocolate consumption fits into your calorie intake, and enjoy it in moderation.
Dark Chocolate Orange Cake
You will need an eight-inch spring form pan for this rich and fudgy dessert. Dark chocolate and orange are a classic flavor combination. Garnish the center of the cake with curls of orange rind for a great finishing touch.
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Dash of salt
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Orange rind strips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Coat an 8-inch springform pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment or wax paper. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.
- Place 3/4 cup sugar and eggs in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed 7 minutes.
- Combine cornstarch and cocoa in a small bowl; set aside. Place juice, liqueur, water, salt, and chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at high 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture; whisk until smooth.
- Gently stir one-fourth of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold into remaining egg mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Place pan in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to larger pan to a depth of 1 inch.
- Bake at 350º for 20 minutes or until top is set. Remove cake pan from water; cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Garnish with powdered sugar and rind just before serving, if desired.
Dark Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting
This vegan cake (no eggs or butter!) is so delicious that our kids begged for more. The frosting is silky smooth, and the cake is light and loaded with chocolate flavor, and healthy fats.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed until smooth
- Two cups water
- Two tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 ripe avocados, mashed until smooth
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 5 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk first five ingredients.
In another bowl, whisk canola oil and next four ingredients. Once combined, add sugar.
Pour wet avocado mixture into flour mixture and mix well until smooth. Divide batter evenly between cake pans. Bake cake in two 9” round cake pans, checking for doneness after 30 minutes.
To frost, allow cakes to cool in pans, then turn out after 15 minutes to cool completely. Add a layer of frosting on first cake layer, then top with second cake layer. Add remaining frosting to the top of cake.