Some foods are consumed more for pleasure than to help us meet the nutritional needs of the body; is the case of chocolate. However, it is good to remember that it is a product that has interesting properties.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…
- For everyone: at low doses (about 10 g and preferably dark chocolate) it can be part of the daily diet, especially for athletes, children and those who need to increase their energy intake.
- In favor: it has antioxidant substances and some minerals such as magnesium and potassium.
- They should avoid it … especially people with overweight, obesity, diabetes.
Energetic and antioxidant
Before attributing any type of effect or property to chocolate, we must not forget those that derive from its essential composition. Chocolate is a food rich in fat and sugar, which automatically makes it an energy food.
A chocolate bar contains between 500 and 550 Kcal per 100 g , while between 56 and 58% of it are carbohydrates, mainly sugars, and 30% are fats. In addition, chocolate contains polyphenols, antioxidant compounds, such as flavanols and epicatechins. Thanks to this, multiple studies have attributed functions such as lowering blood pressure, improvements in insulin resistance, decreased oxidation of LDL cholesterol, benefits in cardiovascular disease in general and even possible prevention against tumor processes. Anyway, more studies are needed to finish determining the exact effects of this food.
Chocolate also contains not inconsiderable amounts of minerals such as magnesium and potassium . Magnesium is involved in muscle contraction and relaxation, the functioning of certain enzymes, the production and transport of energy, etc. Potassium, for its part, is involved in the regulation of acid-base balance and in cardiac electrical activity, is necessary for muscle formation and acts in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Apart from the mentioned components, chocolate contains other substances, such as theobromine , of a stimulating nature similar to caffeine. This component, linked to other factors such as the sensory characteristics of chocolate, its nutritional composition, etc. could explain a slight addiction in sensitive people.
How to take it
There are infinite forms of presentation. In many cases it is the clear protagonist, in cocoa cream, in sauce, in ice cream, in tablet, by the cup, in milkshake, in custard, in chocolates and similar preparations, in cake and sponge cake…. If we also think of all the products in which it shares the limelight with other foods, the list becomes almost infinite: jams, breakfast cereals, cookies, pastries and cakes, nougats, ice cream, crepes …
In short, chocolate constitutes a culture in itself, it even exceeds the limits of food and is used in beauty treatments.
- Dark chocolate: it is the chocolate itself, it results from mixing the paste and the cocoa butter with sugar, without adding other products, except the flavoring and the emulsifier. The percentage of cocoa should exceed 50%, and varieties with up to 99% cocoa are marketed.
- Milk chocolate: this is a sweet that generally should contain less than 40% cocoa mass, although there are exceptions for gourmets.
- White chocolate: we could not really consider it chocolate since it does not contain cocoa paste, which on the other hand is what offers us the properties of cocoa. Contains cocoa butter, milk and sugar.
In addition to these 3 varieties, we can talk about two widely used products:
- Cover chocolate: it is the one used in pastry as raw material, it can be black or with milk, but it contains more or less double the cocoa butter than the rest of chocolates, which makes it brighter, more moldable and more holster easily.
- Chocolate powder: this product is generally obtained by processing with alkali that reduces its capacity as an antioxidant since the treatment it undergoes destroys a large part of the antioxidants. It is a fundamentally sugary product.
Christopher Columbus brought cocoa to the Catholic Monarchs when he returned from one of his trips to America, but the cocoa was not well accepted for its bitter and spicy taste and its dirty appearance. Its consumption in Spain did not begin until Hernán Cortés introduced it to the Spanish court, stating that “when you drink cocoa you can travel all day without getting tired and without needing to eat.”
Who is it good for and who is not?
Chocolate is an essentially energy food that can be suitable for people with high nutritional needs. Anyway, at low doses (about 10 g and preferably dark chocolate) it can be part of the usual diet of anyone who does not suffer from diseases that prevent it.
- Endurance athletes : any athlete has higher caloric needs than the general population. If we also talk specifically about people who engage in or practice endurance sports , we are talking about very high consumption due to the long duration of the tests. As long as it does not cause digestive discomfort, chocolate will be a good way to supply calories with a food of low weight and volume, ideal for transporting in the mountains, etc. In addition, its magnesium and potassium content is also beneficial in people with greater muscular activity.
- Children: they have a higher physical activity than the elders, and in fact, we must prevent them from falling into the sedentary lifestyle that characterizes today’s society. Their energy needs are high, so chocolate can be a complement to a snack, breakfast or dessert. What we should not allow is an excess or that the consumption of chocolate is done instead of other necessary and / or extremely interesting foods such as fruit, cereals or nuts.
- Cancer patients and people with increased energy needs: although it is true that on many occasions people with cancer suffer from digestive difficulties and in certain cases chocolate can be too strong for damaged or sensitive digestive systems, in cases that are not the case it can be a good way to add energy to your diet. Concentrated high-energy foods such as chocolate can help alleviate the difficulties that patients such as cancer patients have to take all the calories they need.
- People with a tendency to high blood pressure: due to its potential as an antioxidant food, it can benefit people with high blood pressure, and its efficiency against insulin resistance and circulation problems is even being studied. In any case, we must bear in mind that the caloric content of chocolate rules it out as a more or less abundant consumption food in people who are overweight or obese, who are generally the ones who suffer the most cardiovascular problems.
The consumption of chocolate is not advised:
- In people with overweight or obesity problems: although it is an antioxidant food and even with possible positive effects on cardiovascular health, we must not forget that it is a caloric food and that, therefore, it should be consumed in moderation in any case and even limit in people who must reduce their body weight.
Buying and conservation advice
Chocolate is a not very perishable product if we talk about tablets, since they contain a significant proportion of sugar and very little water, factors that act as preservatives. When buying it, we must check the expiration date, the integrity of the container and, if it is possible to make a visual inspection, we will check the integrity of the structure, that it has not been undone and set again, and the absence of whitish areas covering the surface. This coloration can be due to two factors, one of them is humidity, which causes the sugar to come to the surface where it recrystallizes (this is what happens when we keep the chocolate in the fridge). The other cause is usually that the chocolate at some point has been at an excessively high temperature and the cocoa butter has escaped towards the outside of the tablet, where upon cooling it crystallizes and gives rise to that clearer coloration. These last changes do not usually lead to changes in taste.
The conservation must be in a cool , dry place and protected from sunlight. If the ambient temperature is very high, it can be kept in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.
THE RECIPE: SIMPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE
- 1 sachet of yeast
- 3 eggs
- 1 glass of olive oil
- 1 glass of brown sugar
- 1.5 glasses of whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 bar of dark chocolate or fondant
Grate half a chocolate bar and reserve the other half. With it and the rest of the ingredients we make the dough, stirring well. When it is homogeneous, we place it in a mold and place it in the previously preheated oven. Let it cook (the cooking time can vary but it is advisable that the oven maintain a temperature of 180ºC, preferably with a fan, and it will be cooked in approximately 45-55 minutes). Once cooked, we undo the half bar of chocolate in a double boiler and use it to cover the cake. If we mix this chocolate with butter, the coating will be more flexible and shiny but we will also worsen the lipid profile of the cake (the nutritional quality).