All you need to know about Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate known for its high cocoa content. Chocolate is made following preparation of the Theobroma Cacao seeds, which are roasted, ground and often flavoured. The first evidence of chocolate beverages goes back to 1900 BC and even the ancient civilzations of Maya and Aztecs were already making a beverage called Nahualt, which means bitter water. In order for dark chocolate to develop it's flavour, the seeds must be left to ferment. Once they are dried and cleaned, the cacao seeds are then roasted. When the shell is removed, cacao nibs are exposed and ground into cocoa mass, which is dark chocolate in purest form. This mass in normally in liquid form and is also called chocolate liquor – it is made from two main components, cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Dark chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and a bit of cocoa butter, in different proportions depending on the manufacturer. Are you wondering where do the cocoa come from? Almost half of the world's cocoa comes from Ivory Coast and western Africa produces almost 2/3 of the world's cocoa. Dark chocolate contains no or significantly less milk than milk chocolate. Many varieties of dark chocolate can be used in cooking, but dark Belgian chocolate has been getting very popular in the recent years due to its health benefits.
Are you wondering what is bitter sweet chocolate? It is basically a chocolate liquor with added sugar and cocoa butter, vanilla flavour and sometime with added lecithin. It is common practice to print a cocoa content on the packaging of the dark chocolate, the higher the percentage is, the more bitter the chocolate will be. What is in semi-sweet chocolate? Semi-sweet chocolate with nearly half as much sugar as it contains cocoa, without content of any milk solids. Bitter sweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate are sometime referred to as couverture.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Why is dark chocolate good for you? What are the dark chocolate health benefits? Why is dark chocolate good for your skin? How to you find the best dark chocolate in the shop when there are so many brands and varieties to choose from? First things first – you need to make sure that you're getting the best dark Belgian chocolate available, to be able to enjoy its health benefits. Normally chocolate content of 70% and more is a good indication that you will be enjoying the benefits of cocoa beans rather than a ton of added sugar. Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70-85% contain some of beneficial nutrients, for example a 100 gram bar can provide 67% of recommended daily allowance of iron, 58% for magnesium, 89% of copper and it also contains a lot of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Dark chocolate has a variety of powerful antioxidants, even more than for example acai berries or blueberries. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve blow flow and lower blood pressure, it can improve several risk factors crucial to heart disease. There are few studies that show eating chocolate regularly can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, in one study it slashed the risk in the tested group by 50% over a period of 15 years. Why is dark chocolate good for your skin? Flavonols contained in the chocolate protect your skin against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow in the skin and surprisingly, even increase skin density and hydration. One of the other crucial health benefits of dark chocolate is the fact that it can improve the function of the brain. In a study conducted over 5 days, the participants showed an improved blood flow to the brain after consuming chocolate regularly. It can also help with cognitive functions in elderly people and improve verbal fluency. Caffeine and theobromine contained in dark chocolate may be the main reason for short term brain function improvement after consuming chocolate regularly.
There you go, plenty of good reasons to snack of your favourite bar of dark Belgian chocolate, hamper filled with chocolates or chocolate truffle anytime you want, without any bad feelings. Remember, everything in moderation, and same goes for consuming dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is the healthiest alternative from all the sweets and chocolate varieties available on the market, so next time you're shopping, avoid the chocolate bars at the checkout counter and opt for a dark Belgian chocolate with a high cocoa content to enjoy plenty of health benefits.