Cocoa butter is composed approximately by 2/3 of saturated fat (1/3 palmitic acid
and 1/3 stearic acid) and 1/3 of monounsaturated fat (oleic acid). Therefore, theoretically
speaking only 2/3 of cocoa butter is unhealthy fat. Also cocoa butter contains less
than 3% of linoleic acid (one of the omega-6 fats).
The content of saturated fat in chocolate greatly varies depending on the brand and
type of chocolate, with milk chocolate and chocolate syrup being fattier than dark
chocolate. White chocolate is among the highest in fat content and should not be
considered chocolate in a first place since it does not contain cocoa.
In addition to the fat content, excessive cocoa consumption may have effects similar
to caffeine. Excessive theobromine can cause addiction, sleeplessness, anxiety, as
well as over-stimulation of the urinary system. So, based on this information, should
chocolate be incorporated into an everyday diet? Can chocolate be used as substitute
for oranges, carrots and other sources of antioxidants?
Chocolate is considered one of the most concentrated sources of nutrients you can
possibly find. This makes it particularly useful for athletes who need a fast release
of high energy. A glass of warm low-fat milk with a spoon of pure dark cocoa sweetened
with brown sugar is an excellent recovery drink after a jog or workout at the gym.
Even better, chocolate contains twice as much nitrogenous matter and twenty-five
times more fat matter than flour. Also, pure cocoa contains twice as many antioxidants
than red wine and three times more than green tea.
Consuming cocoa is a preferable choice over chocolate bars. This way you would eliminate
the fat that is artificially added to the product during manufacturing, and you would
stick to the natural fat produced by the plant. Also, a lot of nutrients naturally
present in cocoa are diluted during the preparation of chocolate when they are mixed
with cocoa butter. Chocolate bars, for example, contain 10 times less theobromine
and way less antioxidants than cocoa powder itself.
Other aspects of chemical processing of cocoa to chocolate regard its treatment with
alkali. Alkali are said to be added to cocoa to improve its solubility through saponification
(the chemical transformation of fatty acids into detergents) of the cocoa butter
component; an aesthetic "improvement" that people willing to stick to "clean" diets
can stay away from.
When you do choose a chocolate bar, it is recommended to stay away from high sugar,
high fat products like milk chocolate or white chocolate. Try to pick dark chocolate
with the highest cocoa content you can (75% and up). More cocoa means that the beneficial
nutrients are not diluted away by the cocoa butter added during the manufacturing
process. Having said so, for many people the bitter taste of dark chocolate is less
appealing than the sweet taste of milk chocolate. Fortunately, there are plenty of
products on the market which combine dry fruit and nuts with dark chocolate, offering
a healthier sweet chocolate alternative. For those who need sweet taste at all costs
for example, a good choice can be dark chocolate with dry cranberries, raisins, or
candied orange peel.
That depends. If you are an active person and have control over the other sources
of calories in your diet, there should not be any problem in incorporating moderate
amounts of cocoa products in your diet routine. It is obviously a matter of avoiding
excess consumption and, more than anything, making the right choice at the supermarket.
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