Chocolate: Healthy or Unhealthy?

Even the Aztecs drank “xocolatl”, a drink made from water, cocoa, vanilla and cayenne pepper, and even today, 500 years later, chocolate is one of the most popular luxury foods.

Chocolate in white, with milk or as a bitter variant

Chocolate consists of the basic ingredients cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Milk chocolate and white chocolate also contain milk powder. According to food law, other substances such as aromas, lecithin , certain edible fats, nuts or fruits may be added. Five types of chocolate have become established: white chocolate, which contains no cocoa powder, milk chocolate with 25% cocoa solids, and the dark varieties of soft, semi-sweet and dark chocolate, with 35-70% cocoa solids.

Cocoa contains around 300 valuable substances

In addition to fat from the cocoa butter and carbohydrates from the sugar, chocolate provides a large number of ingredients that come from the cocoa bean. The approximately 300 substances in cocoa include e.g. B. minerals, the alkaloids caffeine and theobromine, amino acids such as tryptophan, the amines dopamine and serotonin and flavonoids , z. B. Epicatechin. These ingredients are mainly found in dark types of chocolate with a high cocoa content, but less so in milk chocolate, and they are completely absent in white chocolate.

Happy thanks to chocolate?

The happiness-making effect of chocolate is largely unknown. Although cocoa contains compounds that occur as “happy messengers” in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin , the concentration is very low. The content of substances such as theobromine or anandamide, a substance found in cannabis, is also not sufficient for a mood-enhancing effect. Feelings of happiness when eating chocolate are more likely to be attributed to the taste experience and the tenderly melting feeling in the mouth. The high sugar content and thus the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward center can also be responsible for a feeling of happiness.

Does Dark Chocolate Lower Blood Pressure?

The blood pressure lowering effect of chocolate is attributed to the flavonoids contained in cocoa. So e.g. B. Epicatechin, which comes from the subgroup of flavanols, keeps the vessels elastic. A long-term study with 20,000 participants confirmed in 2010 that the blood pressure-lowering effect of dark chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially strokes.

Conclusion: the darker, the better, but only in moderation.

Anyone who wants to do something good for their health with chocolate should choose a dark variant that contains as much cocoa as possible. If you enjoy one or two pieces of dark chocolate (5-10g) per day, you absorb flavonoids for the vessels and at the same time avoid too much sugar and fat. If you combine the dark chocolate with a piece of fruit, e.g. B. unpeeled apple, there is another good portion of flavonoids on top. The sweet, melt-in-the-mouth feeling of milk chocolate should be saved for special occasions to keep your weight, blood sugar and blood fat levels in the healthy range.

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