The beneficial health effects of chocolate are mainly attributed to a large amount of polyphenol content which are the flavanols that are present naturally in cocoa beans. This compound demon-strates strong antioxidative activities that help to maintain good health and prevent the damaging of body cells, thus decreasing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and accelerated-aging. Many studies have shown that the polyphenol content and the quantity of antioxidants absorbed from cocoa is higher than commonly-known antioxidant-rich fruits and beverages such as red wine, green tea and blueberries. Forty gms of dark chocolate contains 951 mgs of antioxidants, and forty gms of milk chocolate contains 394 mg. Comparatively, a glass of orange juice of 240 ml contains only 54 mgs of antioxidants and 70 gms of blue berries contain only 181 mgs of antioxidants.
The flavanol in cocoa and chocolate is reported to have heart health benefits where they inhibit the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) that may help to prevent atherosclerosis and strokes. People with high blood pressure could also benefit from flavanol-rich cocoa. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure is shown in studies to be reduced following ingestion of chocolate, especially dark chocolate. For a healthy population, it was noted that chocolate had no effect on blood pressure.
Eating chocolate does not increase cholesterol levels in your blood. The saturated fat in cocoa butter which is stearic acid does not behave like other saturated fats, in that it does not increase your cholesterol level. Besides, cocoa butter also contains unsaturated fats which are oleic and linoleic acid that reduce cholesterol levels in blood.
Scientific research has also shown that cocoa polyphenol could promote accommodation to stress. This is associated to the release of endorphins, a chemical substance produced by the brain. The release of endorphins upon ingestion of chocolate likely explains the feelings of comfort that many people associate with it. This also explains common cravings for chocolate in times of stress.
Chocolate is definitely a nutritious food that can contribute to a balanced diet. It contains a significant amount of macronutrients needed for the body which are carbohydrates, fats and proteins, as well as a significant amount of micronutrients such as vitamins (vitamin A, Niacin, Riboflavin, thiamin) and minerals (iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium). Comparatively, a bar of milk chocolate provides more protein, calcium and riboflavin than fruit and vegetables like banana, carrot, apple and raisin of the same weight.
Chocolate is also a good source of energy, as a 100 gms of chocolate can provide 18% of the energy needed in a day. It is therefore a high-energy food in a relatively small volume. Athletic people are among those who eat chocolate regularly, since it offers rapidly available energy. A bar of chocolate after sports or strenuous activities helps the body to recover faster by replenishing lost carbohydrates. Therefore, an appropriate amount of chocolate may be a performance enhancer, besides also boosting energy.
HEALTHY RANGE OF COCOA PRODUCTS:
Cocoa products such as chocolate can be considered functional foods since they naturally contain bioactive compounds from cocoa beans that can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Dark chocolate for instance, is one of the richest food sources of antioxidants that have certain preventive effects on a number of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and accelerated-aging. Chocolate is also rich in valuable micronutrients like potassium, zinc, magnesium and iron, while milk chocolate contributes calcium to the diet.
Antioxidant Chocolate. The nutritional value of this chocolate is maximized by its additional polyphenol content, which is extracted from cocoa nibs. The important components of antioxidant chocolate are polyphenolic antioxidants, 100% pure cocoa butter which is a heart-friendly lipid and proteins containing low fat milk powder. This product contains extra flavonoid which amounts to 4245.6 mgs GAE per 100 gms of chocolate. This health-promoting chocolate is designed for the general public and will be the first antioxidant chocolates in Malaysia.
Antioxidant Tablets. The positive health implications of cocoa polyphenol has led to the development of the cocoa antioxidant tablet. The Extra Antioxidant Tablet, called Flavint is enhanced with polyphenol extracted from cocoa beans. This tablet contains 1,328 mgs GAE flavonoids per 100 gms, and may be taken as a supplement with a dose of 1 – 2 tablets twice a day.
Prebiotic Chocolate. Prebiotic chocolate is formulated with a sugar substitute and contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber. This chocolate is able to exert prebiotic effects by stimulating the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria that protect against intestinal infections and lessens the incidence of colon cancer. The chocolate also lowers serum cholesterols and does not influence body weight. Prebiotic chocolates are available in milk and dark chocolate forms.
Sugarfree Chocolate. The sugar free chocolate product range was produced mainly to reduce sugar intake, to maintain weight and attractive physical appearance as well as for better overall health. The sugar in chocolate is substituted with polyols, which is non-cariogenic, low in calories and suitable for diabetics. Sugar free chocolates are available in milk, dark and white chocolate forms.
Energy Chocolate. This is a pure milk chocolate that is formulated with quick energy releasing ingredients to provide instant and sufficient energy for daily activities. 44% of its source of energy is derived off carbohydrates, 13% from proteins and 35.2% from fat. It contains all-natural ingredients with pure cocoa butter and no preservatives or stabilisers. Its protein content is twice that of normal chocolate, which helps to increase mental alertness, boost metabolism, maintain energy and satisfy hunger. It tastes great, and is also quick and convenient for all types of lifestyles.
Malaysia Cocoa Board | Lembaga Koko Malaysia
Address: 5th – 7th Floor, Wisma SEDCO, Locked Bag 211, 88999 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.