The Benefits of Dark Chocolate: A Fun Guide (And Possible History Crash Course)
Did you know that in 1735, Carl Linneaus designated the tropical tree with large pods Theobroma cacao, the scientific name translating as ‘food of the gods.’ Interestingly, cocoa has been consumed for well over 4,000 years now with the Mesoamericans being the first connoisseur of this incredible plant! Unlike modern day consumption patterns, cocoa beans were originally consumed in paste form as a bitter drink. This elixir was touted for hundreds of years for the virility, mental clarity, and endurance it bestowed upon those fortunate enough to enjoy a cup.
Originally reserved exclusively for royalty and aristocrats upon its debut in Spain and other parts of Europe, it was not until 1828 when the general public could finally enjoy the luscious import. Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, a Dutch chemist, developed the hydraulic cocoa press enabling the beans to be consumed in more innovative ways. This press greatly reduced the cocoa bean’s fat content allowing for a dry solid cake to then be ground into a fine cocoa powder. The powder could then be blended with sugar and the reserved cocoa butter consumed in solid form very similar to our bars of today. This invention revolutionised the confectionery industry and enabled cocoa to be used as an affordable ingredient in today’s snacks!
Dark chocolate above 60% cocoa solids is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains phenethylamine, which your body metabolises into serotonin, which can boost your mood. Other studies have cited dark chocolate to lower blood pressure, lower risk of stroke, lower risk of diabetes, lower stress hormones, boost immune system, and improve brain function and cognitive capabilities. In addition, dark chocolate is absolutely packed with essential minerals like potassium, zinc, iron and selenium.
However, not all chocolate is created equally. Dark chocolate in comparison to other chocolate types has been linked in a recent Kingston University study to boosts in athletes’ endurance performance due to it being abundant in flavanols. It is this abundance in flavanols which is believed to positively impact blood vessel function by including improved blood flow thereby reducing oxygen consumption. Therefore, athletes can keep going for longer periods of time! These studies also showed that dark chocolate consuming cyclists used less oxygen than their white chocolate consuming counterparts. In contrast, milk chocolate bars contain high amounts of sugar and milk. Some studies have stated that milk inhibits the body’s ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants from the chocolate such as in the case of milk chocolate.
There are many health benefits to consuming chocolate of 60% cocoa solids and above on a daily basis. As with everything moderation is key, which is why we recommend one portion of our 32 grams of Peakz, which is a perfectly portioned snack! Enjoy your chocolate...after all it is a plant!
For further looks at the impact of minerals and vitamins on athletes an in-depth guide has been developed by Sports Fitness Advisor. This guide is packed with free practical tips and advice. and can be accessed here: https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/sports-nutrition.html