The Chocolate may not be a guilty pleasure after all. If you choose dark chocolate (chocolate made with more than 60 percent cocoa) over milk chocolate or white chocolate, you can enjoy certain healthy benefits. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate consumed with milk do not provide the same benefits. This does not mean that you should eat unlimited amounts of dark chocolate, as it has a high calorie content and can contribute to weight gain if you consume too much of it regularly.
Cocoa, which is used to make both dark chocolate and milk chocolate, contains flavonoids called flavonols, epicatechin and procyanidins, which act as antioxidants in the body. The higher the concentration of cocoa, the greater the amount of flavonoids present in chocolate. Dark chocolate contains a small amount of sugar and vanilla along with cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder, while milk chocolate contains these ingredients together with milk and more sugar.
Potential health benefits
Flavonoids can help lower blood pressure, lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, reduce the risk of clots, improve cognitive performance and mood, according to the Health System of the University of Michigan. Fitness Maganize notes that flavonoids can also keep blood vessels flexible and free of plaques, as well as decrease the risk of certain cancers, including skin cancer.
Although milk chocolate contains flavonoids, it does not provide the same benefits as dark chocolate. This is not only because of the lower amount of flavonoids present in milk chocolate, but because of a possible interaction between flavonoids and milk in milk chocolate. Milk can bind with flavonoids, which makes them unavailable. For the same reason, you should not consume milk when you eat dark chocolate if you want to experience the health benefits, says a 2003 USA Today article.
Dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation. Although the fat it contains is mainly made up of types of fats that do not raise cholesterol, dark chocolate contains a lot of fat and calories. Limit chocolate consumption to 1 ounce per day and choose chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa content, recommends the University of Michigan Health System. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the more beneficial compounds you will consume.Choose dark chocolate that contains cocoa butter and not other types of fats such as hydrogenated oils.