Just in case you need some conviincing on the health benefits of chocolate, here’s some interesting information relating to chocolate & health from Callebaut.com
The inner values of chocolate
Source of energy for an active lifestyle
Because of the high concentration of calories in a relatively small volume and thanks to the positive relationship between sugars and fats, chocolate is an important source of direct energy. Chocolate also compensates very rapidly for the energy that the body expends during heavy physical or mental exertion. That’s why chocolate is extremely popular with athletes, students and anyone who wants to restore their energy quickly after strenuous activity. In short, chocolate goes hand in hand with an active lifestyle.
Polyphenols believed to counteract free radicals
Polyphenols are natural components found in healthy plants such as fruit and vegetables, and also in the cocoa plant. The polyphenols found in cocoa belong to the category of flavanoids, in particular the flavanols. Flavanols are particularly abundant in cocoa beans, even more than in red wine or green tea. Cocoa also contains unusually large amounts of more complex flavanols called procyanidins. These are powerful antioxidants protecting body cells against the effect of free radicals. According to research, free radicals accelerate the ageing process and are responsible for the degeneration of certain body functions, such as the ability to see or the nervous system. In addition, flavonoids appear to have positive cardiovascular effects, to strengthen the immune system, to lead to lower cholesterol/blood pressure and to improve the function of blood vessels.
Low levels of cholesterol
In cocoa and chocolate, we also find a unique saturated fat which, according to recent research, has a neutral effect on the production of bad cholesterol and could possibly promote the creation of good cholesterol. Cocoa and dark chocolate are naturally cholesterol-free, and milk and white chocolate only contain a minimal amount of cholesterol, which comes from the milk used in these products.
Sugar absorbed slowly by body, resulting in low Glycaemic Index
Before being turned into chocolate, cocoa beans contain very few natural sugars. The added sugar only causes the blood sugar to rise by a very slight degree, which results in a low Glycaemic Index. Thanks to the unique composition of chocolate, the sugar present is absorbed very slowly by the human body. Chocolate does not harm teeth. Eating chocolate can lead to a feeling of well-being and have a calming effect on one’s state of mind.
Stimulating effect of theobromine and caffeine
Cocoa and chocolate also contain minimal levels of theobromine and caffeine. These substances have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, the heartbeat and the relaxation of the respiratory muscles. Recent medical research indicates that theobromine and caffeine reduce fatigue and improve concentration.
Essential calcium and proteins for young people
Children and young adults, for whom proteins and calcium are extremely important, adore milk chocolate and chocolate-flavored drinks. Furthermore, milk and white chocolate are themselves sources of calcium and proteins.
Vitamins A and B12 support growth processes
Milk and white chocolate are rich first and foremost in vitamins A and B12, which, among other things, contribute to the growth of healthy teeth and bones, the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, the creation of red blood cells and the growth of muscles and tissues.
B-complex, D and E vitamins
Cocoa and dark chocolate also contain many B-complex vitamins, needed for releasing energy and creating the body’s building blocks. In addition, dark, milk and white chocolate all contain vitamins D and E.
Minerals for proper functioning of the body
As well as being a source of vitamins, chocolate is also a source of those minerals vital to proper body functions. Dark chocolate is particularly rich in magnesium, important for robust brain function. It also contains copper, iron, manganese and zinc for the promotion of cell growth, the repair of tissue and the absorption of nutrients.
Dietary fiber with cleaning effect on digestive system
Chocolate also has a beneficial effect on digestion. Cocoa mass contains around 15% of soluble and non-soluble dietary fiber. This fiber improves intestinal movements and keeps the intestinal and stomach walls clean.