The Science Behind the Benefits of Chocolate

Milk Chocolate Fountain

There is very little argument on the delightfulness of chocolate. It’s widely consumed in almost every culture. Chocolate is also a go-to gift for anyone who wants to express his or her love or gratitude. While we all know that chocolate is delicious—a delicacy even—there are also nutritional benefits of chocolate. The science of chocolate actually provides some wonderful health advantages.

The Science of Chocolate

Chocolate is so versatile. It melts perfectly, offers a smooth texture, and somehow seems to make everything a little bit better. Chocolate is a polymorph, meaning it can take on different shapes when it becomes solid. It has six ways in can crystalize after melting and cooled, depending on the temperature.

Chocolate is derived from cocoa butter, which is composed of oleic, palmitic, and stearic fatty acids. As chocolate heats and cools, a process known as tempering, chocolate artisans have the ability to manipulate it, choosing the final form. This is a precise art, considering the vulnerability of the delicate crystal structures. These chocolatiers must have a delicate touch to create the glossy yet firm chocolate that melts in your mouth.

Why Is Chocolate Melted?

Artisans melt down chocolate to alter its flavor as well as its shape. Temperatures heavily influence this process. Heating chocolate to around 63 degrees Fahrenheit delivers a soft, crumbly product for easy melting. The temperature most chocolatiers identify as the best is 93 degrees Fahrenheit. At this heat, the crystal structure of the chocolate melts away. It’s then reheated so that it becomes type V chocolate, which is the most desired. It’s firm yet snaps easy and melts at body temperature. That’s the moment when chocolate literally melts in your mouth, flavor dispersing throughout.

Why We Love Chocolate

Who isn’t delighted at the sight of a chocolate gift box? A gift of chocolates is something that’s been part of cultures for hundreds of years. Is that because chocolate influences our brains?

Each time you consume chocolate, you probably have a euphoric response and a desire to eat more. That’s because chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a compound that incites the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Chocolate and dopamine have been heavily studied. Dopamine plays a significant role in the body’s reward system. It’s released when you have a positive experience from laughing to eating to exercising. When you eat chocolate, dopamine filters to the frontal lobe, hippocampus, and hypothalamus. As these areas regulate emotion, you create an association that chocolate delivers happiness. There’s a link between the two, so it’s not surprising that chocolate has become a symbol of love and affection.

Benefits of Chocolate

Next time you decide to give a chocolate box to a loved one, be sure to offer these benefits of chocolate. The recipient can then feel a little less guilty about indulging!

Chocolate has a long history of being part of human consumption. It dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica. Once Europeans discovered it the Americas, it became extremely popular with demand skyrocketing. Millions of people now enjoy it every day, and it can offer many health benefits.

While chocolate is often associated with being high in fat and sugar, it’s not all bad news. That’s according to a review of chocolate’s health effects. In this study, the authors focus on cocoa, chocolate’s key ingredient, and the fact that it contains biologically active phenolic compounds.

This finding changed the perspective on chocolate and how it can impact aging, stress, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.

Chocolate also has antioxidants, which can offer a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, the darker the chocolate. Thus, dark chocolate is the most beneficial and contains less fat and sugar. Moderate chocolate consumption could help with these health issues:

Cholesterol

Studies have shown that chocolate may help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol.” If chocolate contains plant sterols and cocoa flavanols, it can have an impact on cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure.

Cognitive Function

Chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow to the parts of the brain where it’s most needed. This, in addition, to the dopamine response, can help you think more clearly. Significant research has been done on the ability of cocoa to help nerve pathways in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It was shown that it could reduce or prevent damage in these patients.

Heart Disease

Could chocolate be a leading component for helping reduce the risk of developing heart disease? Research suggests it could do so by one-third. The study concluded that higher levels of chocolate consumption lowered the risk of cardiac disorders.

Strokes

Scientists have been able to correlate that those who ate one serving of chocolate regularly were 22% less likely to experience a stroke than those who did not. Further, those who ate about two ounces of chocolate weekly were 46% less likely to die from stroke.

Chocolate is such a strong part of our culture, and it’s nice to know that not only does it taste good, it’s also good for you. When you eat chocolate that’s been handcrafted by artisans, you can be even more assured of its positive benefits.

Next time you decide to gift chocolate, choose artisanal products. A chocolate gift box, filled with genuine products that were lovingly created, shows that you took the extra time to choose just the right products. Give the gift of chocolate today by browsing our chocolate gift boxes.