Where does chocolate come from?
Chocolate is derived from the seeds of the cacao tree, most of which are grown in Africa. A process of harvesting, fermentation, roasting and grinding these seeds takes place to produce a paste before different processes are used to create various kinds of chocolate. This can range from cocoa powder, chocolate bars to chocolate syrup of different intensities and purity.
Chocolate is good for your health
Chocolate contains things like flavanols, which contain antioxidants that are reduce cell damage that could cause heart disease. Flavanols also reduce inflammation and blood pressure, all characteristics that help improve vascular function. The theobromine in chocolate also helps your oral health by hardening the enamel on your teeth, thus lowering your risk of getting cavities (if you are also maintaining good hygiene!).
Chocolate is good for your brain
Apparently, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that the epicatechin found in chocolate actually makes you smarter. In studies, this compound reduced the brain damage in mice who had suffered strokes. So hopefully it helps boost the strength of human brains as well.
Chocolate is good for your skin
As previously mentioned, the antioxidants within chocolate help combat the free radicals in your around your body that breaks down cells. Preventing such cell damage not only protects your insides, but keeps your skin looking young as it prevents your skin from aging too quickly.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should consume chocolate that is at least 65 percent cocoa or higher. The problem with many kinds of chocolate on the market is that they are filled with other additives such as flavoring and sugar, which means they don't contain much of the beneficial properties of pure chocolate at all, and in fact contain more ingredients that are actually harmful for the body. So lay off the truffles and milk chocolate and stick to the dark stuff.
How much chocolate should I eat?
The Mayo Clinic recommends sticking to about 3 ounces (85 grams) of dark chocolate daily. Although purer chocolate has its benefits, don't overdo it! A daily amount of 3 ounces of dark chocolate equals roughly 450 calories.
If you were apprehensive about consuming chocolate before, don't be. Just remember to eat the right kind, in the right amount, then reap the benefits!