Chocolate is notorious for being the go-to sugary comfort food. While it’s often portrayed as fattening and unhealthy, some recent studies have shown that this sweet death trap may have some impressive health benefits. As for the fat involved with chocolate, scientists are not worrying too much about it, considering that chocolate has three types of fat in it, only one of which could negatively impact cholesterol (the others either are positively effective or don’t affect the cholesterol at all).
It should be clarified that this doesn’t necessarily mean that one should start cramming Hershey’s Kisses in their mouths by the handful, holding onto the belief that they will be cured from all ailments. Cocoa is the actual substance that could help with health. In fact, specifically cocoa and the development of cocoa extract are of such great interest to some experts that they are calling for the making of a “chocolate pill”, or a cocoa supplement. This could promote brain health, preventing neurological disorders related to age such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dark chocolate, if too much sugar hasn’t been added, has already been found to balance, not increase, blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of obesity. This seems ironic, considering chocolate of any kind is credited to have taken a major role in acting as a cause for the growing rates of obesity in the 21st century!
But, creating this chocolate supplement is not as simple as it sounds. Many people of all different specialties (everyone from cocoa growers to salesmen and the biomedical community that will work to research) must cooperate and work together to be successful. The chocolate that we have all come to know and love that is processed in factories and sold in stores is not exactly what the pills would be fashioned from, so it isn’t as easy as just shaping squares of chocolate into pill shapes; the process that our favorite store-bought chocolates undergo actually strips them of around 90% of the healthy and effective phytochemicals. This stresses the importance of the way in which the potential cocoa supplements will be processed as to preserve maximum health benefits. Unfortunately, taking away all of this sugar-adding and flavor-boosting and nutrition-stripping means that the final product of the cocoa supplement wouldn’t end up tasting nearly as great as a piece of creamy milk chocolate.
In further detail, cocoa is packed with catechins and procyanidins, which are different bioactive compounds that could help to relieve stress among other health issues, like chronic inflammation. Additionally, there are certain phytochemicals in cocoa that could help to protect against cancer. These phytochemicals have also been seen to improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain.
So, next time that you start to feel guilty about eating a big slice of chocolate cake, just remember that small amounts of chocolate can actually help with your health!