The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is one of life’s real pleasures, with its sweet tasting, complex flavours, and gorgeous creamy texture. But what if we were to tell you that there is more to chocolate than meets the taste buds. Chocolate is not only a moment to indulge but every square has the chance to affect your mental and physical health in an amazing way .
The list of health benefits associated with cocoa are endless (searching on google will provide you will over 136,000,000 hits) some claims wonderfully true and some, a stretch of the imagination. Islands is here to give you the low-down.
There are two key components in any bar of chocolate. The cocoa butter, which is the fatty part of chocolate, that makes it smooth and creamy and the cocoa solids. The solids are what is left after the cocoa butter has been removed and the part of the bar that gives it colour and flavour, they make each bar unique.
Colour and flavour are not the only things making the cocoa solids fantastic, they are particularly special due to their high content of flavanol, a naturally occurring plant compound. Pre-harvesting, flavanol in the cocoa plants acts a protector, acting as a guard against spore-borne diseases, but, amazingly, when we consume them, they play a protective role for us as well!
In simple terms, consumption of flavanol aids our body and mind in working together more effectively. Flavanol, especially originating from cocoa helps the body maintain healthy amounts of nitric oxide; a molecule that relaxes arterial walls which increases blood flow all over the body, allowing more oxygen to be delivered from our head to our toes. In other words, more flavanol means better circulation.
But why is increased circulation a good thing?
Well, this is where the list of cocoa health benefits becomes as long as 136,000,000, increased circulation has direct effects on brain, heart and skin health. To name some: reduced blood pressure levels, decreased risk of heart attack and stroke, improved brain functioning, increased mood and calming of anxiety.
Sadly, not all chocolate is created equal, as we mentioned before, the flavanol rich aspect of chocolate is the cocoa solids, which is essentially the percent of cocoa labelled on the bar, the higher the cocoa percentage, the more flavanol the chocolate has.
Luckily for Island chocolate lovers, all our bars are 72% and above, the highest being 85% (think of all that flavanol!) and if you take a look at the ingredients you will find be pleased to see that other than cocoa butter and sugar (just to add a delicious kick of sweetness) and in our cinnamon and nutmeg bar some natural spices, there are no confounding aspects such as egg, palm fat, lactose or vegetable fats (all found in the average milk chocolate bar). We are lucky that we get enough flavour from our intercropped cocoa beans!
So, we can tell you with confidence, that within moderation (a feat that is hard to achieve) Islands chocolate is a healthy way to indulge and relax. So, treat yourself!