why is chocolate good for you

When talking about caffeine, coffee and chocolate are at the top of the discussion list. Both give you an energy boost and both give you cravings. The real question is: are they equal? The short answer is no – chocolate is way superior.

Related: Is Coffee The Key To Workplace Happiness?

 

Where did chocolate come from?

Chocolate has been around for many centuries, dating as far back as 1900 BC. But it didn’t start out as the sweets we love today. Originally, the people of Mesoamerica only prepared chocolate as a bitter, frothy drink, mixed with spices and corn puree (known today as “Chilate” in the South of Mexico). Cacao seeds were once believed to be a gift from the gods and were so valuable that they were used as a currency.

 

The history of chocolate as we know it

Many years later in the 16th century, chocolate made its way to Europe. It was still served as a beverage, but the Spanish added sugar or honey to counteract the natural bitterness. By the late 19th century, the Dutch invented a process to produce solid chocolate. Soon after, the Swiss invented milk chocolate and several chocolate companies came into existence including Lindt & Sprüngli AG, Nestlé, Cadbury, and Hershey.

Today, people still really love chocolate; some even call themselves proud chocoholics. Other people hate the taste of chocolate, although we’re not entirely sure how that is possible…

 

Why do we love chocolate so much?

If you’ve ever experienced chocolate cravings, you will know that almost nothing else will satisfy that craving. Chocolate is a complete sensory experience. It’s the combination of the smell, taste, and texture that makes it so special. Taking cocoa capsules will give you the benefits of chocolate, but it will not decrease the craving. This is because your brain releases a chemical called dopamine when you experience something that makes you feel good. Eating chocolate makes you feel good, so your brain releases dopamine.

It was first thought that chocolate could activate the dopamine system directly like cocaine and cigarettes; however, chocolate is not addictive as it does not activate these parts in your brain. Others think that it’s the dairy, sugar, and fat in chocolate that make us crave chocolate because our brains perceive that it is calorie dense, or that our gut microbes control our cravings.

 

Why is chocolate good for you?

Chocolate is believed to be a superfood because of its extremely high levels of antioxidants, called flavonoids, and the high amounts of minerals like calcium, copper, magnesium, and zinc. Eating chocolate is linked to heart health, improved mood and brain function, stable blood sugar levels, and raised energy levels. Although the fat found in cocoa butter, stearic acid, is classified as saturated fat, it does not raise bad cholesterol levels; instead, it seems to lower them.

The caffeine content in chocolate is much lower than that of coffee, and thus less harmful to your body. Chocolate might even kick your boxing training up a notch by helping you lose weight and build muscle! Read our next article for 5 reasons you should give in to your chocolate cravings. Remember that moderation is key – you only need about 30 grams of dark chocolate or 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder per day.

 

Natural raw cocoa vs alkalised cocoa

If you’re serious about reaping all the benefits of cocoa, try to find natural raw cocoa powder that wasn’t produced by Dutching. Dutch processing reduces the natural acidity and bitterness of cocoa through washing the cocoa with an alkali like potassium carbonate. Unfortunately, this also reduces the antioxidants, called flavonoids, in the cocoa. However, some scientists reckon that the antioxidant levels of cocoa are so high, that even Dutched cocoa still has more than enough antioxidants.

Author

Somarié De Kock