Chocolate : nutrition, shocking benefits & 4 adverse effects

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(Cocoa, milk chocolate, sweet chocolate)

Chocolate Nutritional Profile

• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: Low (cocoa powder) High (chocolate)
• Fat: Moderate
• Saturated fat: High
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: Low (chocolate) High (cocoa powder)
• Fiber: Moderate (chocolate) High (cocoa powder)
• Sodium: Moderate
• Major vitamin contribution: B vitamins
• Major mineral contribution: Calcium, iron, copper

How Many Nutrients in Chocolate Food

Chocolate
Chocolate

• Cocoa beans are high-carbohydrate, high-protein food, with less dietary fiber and more fat than all other beans, excepting soy beans. The cocoa bean’s dietary fiber includes pectins and gums. Its proteins are limited in the essential amino acids lysine and isoleucine.

• Cocoa butter, the fat in cocoa beans, is the second most highly saturated vegetable fat (coconut oil is number one), but it has two redeeming nutritional qualities.

• First, it rarely turns rancid. Second, it melts at 95°F, the temperature of the human tongue.

• Cocoa butter has no cholesterol; neither does plain cocoa powder or plain dark chocolate. Cocoa beans have B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin) plus minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and copper).

• All chocolate candy is made from chocolate liquor, a thick paste pro -duce by roasting and grinding cocoa beans.

• Dark (sweet) chocolate is made of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk chocolate is made of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, milk or milk powder, and vanilla. White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk powder.

• Baking chocolate is unsweetened dark chocolate. Because chocolate is made from a bean, it also contains dietary fiber and measurable amounts of certain minerals.

• For example, one ounce of dark chocolate, the most nutritious “eating” chocolate, has 1.6 g dietary fiber, 0.78 mg iron (4 percent of the RDA for a woman, 10 percent of the RDA for a man), 32 mg magnesium (11 percent of the RDA for a woman, 8 percent of the RDA for a man), and .43 mg zinc (5 percent of the RDA for a woman, 4 percent of the RDA for a man).

• Cocoa beans, cocoa, and chocolate contain caffeine, the muscle stimulant theobromine, and the mood-altering chemicals phenylethylalanine and anandamide (see below).

How To Serve Nutritious Chocolate Food

• With low-fat milk to complete the proteins without adding saturated fat and cholesterol.

NOTE: Both cocoa and chocolate contain oxalic acid, which binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate, an insoluble compound, but milk has so much calcium that the small amount bound to cocoa and chocolate hardly matters.

• Chocolate skim milk is a source of calcium.

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Chocolate Food

• Antiflatulence diet
• Low-calcium and low-oxalate diet (to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones)
• Low-calorie diet
• Low-carbohydrate diet
• Low-fat diet
• Low-fat, controlled-cholesterol diet (milk chocolates)
• Low-fiber diet
• Potassium-regulated (low-potassium) diet

How To Buying Chocolate Food

Look for:

Tightly sealed boxes or bars. When you open a box of chocolates or unwrap acandy bar, the chocolate should be glossy and shiny. Chocolate that looks dull may be stale, or it may be inexpensively made candy without enough cocoa butter to make it gleam and give it the rich creamy mouthfeel we associate with the best chocolate. (Fine chocolate melts evenly on the tongue.)

• Chocolate should also smell fresh, not dry and powdery, and when you break a bar or piece of chocolate it should break cleanly, not crumble.

• One exception: If you have stored a bar of chocolate in the refrigerator, it may splinter if you break it without bringing it to room temperature first.

How To Storing Chocolate Food

• Store chocolate at a constant temperature, preferably below 78°F.

• At higher temperatures, the fat in the chocolate will rise to the surface and, when the chocolate is cooled, the fat will solidify into a whitish powdery bloom.

• Bloom is unsightly but doesn’t change the chocolate’s taste or nutritional value. To get rid of bloom, melt the chocolate.

• The chocolate will turn dark, rich brown again when its fat recombines with the other ingredients.

• Chocolate with bloom makes a perfectly satisfactory chocolate sauce.

• Dark chocolate (bitter chocolate, semisweet chocolate) ages for at least six months after it is made, as its flavor becomes deeper and more intense.

• Wrapped tightly and stored in a cool, dry cabinet, it can stay fresh for a year or more.

• Milk chocolate ages only for about a month after it is made and holds its peak flavor for about three to six months, depending on how carefully it is stored.

• Plain cocoa, with no added milk powder or sugar, will stay fresh for up to a year if you keep it tightly sealed and cool.

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What Happens When You Cook Chocolate Food

• Chocolate burns easily. To melt it without mishap, stir the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water or in the top of a double boiler or put the chocolate in a covered dish and melt it in the microwave (which does not get as hot as a pot on the store).

• Simple chemistry dictates that chocolate cakes be leavened with baking soda rather than baking powder.

• Chocolate is so acidic that it will upset the delicate balance of acid (cream of tartar) and base (alkali = sodium bicarbonate = baking soda) in baking powder.

• But it is not acidic enough to balance plain sodium bicarbonate. That’s why we add an acidic
sour-milk product such as buttermilk or sour cream or yogurt to a chocolate cake.

• Without the sour milk, the batter would be so basic that the chocolate would look red, not brown,
and taste very bitter.

How Other Kinds of Processing Affect Chocolate Food

Freezing.

Chocolate freezes and thaws well. Pack it in a moistureproof container and defrost it in the same package to let it reabsorb moisture it gave off while frozen.

Chocolate brownie
Chocolate brownie

Medical Uses and/or Benefits Of Chocolate

Mood elevator.

Chocolate’s reputation for making people feel good is based not only on its caffeine content 19 mg caffeine per ounce of dark (sweet) chocolate, which is one-third the amount of caffeine in a five-ounce cup of brewed coffee but also on its naturally occurring mood altering chemicals phenylethylalanine and anandamide.

• Phenylethylalanine is found in the blood of people in love.

Possible heart health benefits.

Chocolate is rich in catechins, the antioxidant chemicals that give tea its reputation as a heart-protective anticancer beverage (see green tea).

• In addition, a series of studies beginning with those at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Peoria, Illinois, suggest that consuming foods rich in stearic acid like chocolate may reduce rather than raise.

the risk of a blood clot leading to a heart attack.

Possible slowing of the aging process. Chocolate is a relatively good source of copper, a mineral that may play a role in slowing the aging process by decreasing the incidence of “protein glycation,” a reaction in which sugar molecules (gly = sugar) hook up with protein molecules in the bloodstream, twisting the protein molecules out of shape and rendering them unusable.

• This can lead to bone loss, rising cholesterol, cardiac abnormalities, and a slew of other unpleasantries.

• In people with diabetes, excess protein glycation may be one factor involved in complications such as loss of vision. Ordinarily, increased protein glycation is age-related.

• Vegetarians are less likely to be copper deficient because, as Saari notes, the foods highest in copper are whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, including the cocoa bean.

• One ounce of dark chocolate has .25 mg copper (8–17 percent of the ESADDI).

Adverse Effects Associated with Chocolate Food

Possible loss of bone density.

In 2008, a team of Australian researchers at Royal Perth Hospital, and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital published a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggesting that women who consume chocolate daily had 3.1 percent lower bone density than women who consume chocolate no more than once a week.


Possible increase in the risk of heart disease.

Cocoa beans, cocoa powder, and plain dark chocolate are high in saturated fats. Milk chocolate is high in saturated fats and cholesterol.

• Eating foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol increases the amount of cholesterol in your blood and raises your risk of heart disease.

NOTE: Plain cocoa powder and plain dark chocolate may be exceptions to this rule.

• In studies at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Peoria, Illinois, volunteers who consumed foods high in stearic acid, the saturated fat in cocoa beans, cocoa powder, and chocolate, had a lower risk of blood clots.

• In addition, chocolate is high in flavonoids, the antioxidant chemicals that give red wine its heart-healthy reputation.

Mild jitters.

There is less caffeine in chocolate than in an equal size serving of coffee: A fiveounce cup of drip-brewed coffee has 110 to 150 mg caffeine; a five-ounce cup of cocoa made with a tablespoon of plain cocoa powder ( 1/3 oz.) has about 18 mg caffeine.

• Nonetheless, people who are very sensitive to caffeine may find even these small amounts problematic.

Allergic reaction.

According to the Merck Manual, chocolate is one of the 12 foods most likely to trigger the classic food allergy symptoms: hives, swelling of the lips and eyes, and upset stomach.

• The others are berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries),corn, eggs, fish, legumes (green peas, lima beans, peanuts, soybeans), milk, nuts, peaches, pork, shellfish, and wheat (see wheat cereals).

Chocolate Food/Drug Interactions

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are drugs used to treat depression. They inactivate naturally occurring enzymes in your body that metabolize tyramine, a substance found in many fermented or aged foods.

• Tyramine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Caffeine is a substance similar to tyramine. If you consume excessive amounts of a caffeinated food, such as cocoa or chocolate, while you are taking an MAO inhibitor, the result may be a hypertensive crisis.

False-positive test for pheochromocytoma.

Pheochromocytoma, a tumor of the adrenal gland, secretes adrenalin, which the body converts to VMA (vanillylmandelic acid).

• VMA is excreted in urine, and, until recently, the test for this tumor measured the level of VMA in the urine.

• In the past, chocolate and cocoa, both of which contain VMA, were eliminated from the patient’s diet prior to the test lest they elevate the level of VMA in the urine and produce a false-positive result. Today, more finely drawn tests usually make this unnecessary.

 

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