In a common way we speak interchangeably of cocoa and chocolate. But, in reality, they are not the same. Cocoa is, by its nature, a much healthier product than chocolate. For what reason?
Cocoa butter, milk or sugar can play a counterproductive role for our health. Today we review their differences and why is it more or less healthy One or another product.
How is cocoa different from chocolate?
In Spain, according to Royal Decree 822/1990, « means cocoa and chocolate products those intended for human consumption that come from cocoa beans, Theobroma cocoa, fermented and dried. « On cocoa, in particular, they differ in cocoa fines, cocoa paste, cocoa cakes, defatted cocoa cake, powdered, sugary … among others, all from seed.
By cons, Chocolates are those products made from the above and that may include other ingredients in the recipe, although they must contain at least 35% cocoa of any kind. This, in practice, means that any cocoa product to which we add milk, sugar and cocoa butter, for example. Cocoa can also carry sugar or cocoa butter, but its content is much higher and has been less processed to separate its components.
This has an important nutritional consequence: Chocolates are much more fatty and sugary. Its content in polyphenols, one of the healthiest components of cocoa, as well as in fibers, are lower. In other words, cocoa are healthier. They also have a stronger and bitter taste, of course.
In spite of everything, the denomination is sometimes complex and confusing. For example, some pure chocolates, 70% or 85% in cocoa they contain very little added sugar or cocoa butter, being much healthier than their counterparts « with milk ». White chocolates are also another terrible example, because they contain very little cocoa and a large amount of sugar and pure cocoa butter, so they enter the denomination without resembling cocoa at all.
How does chocolate have to be « to be healthy?
As we explained before, The more pure the chocolate, and the more it looks like a cocoa, which is the « purer » form of this food, the better. That implies that white chocolates, with milk, sugary and less than 70%, in that order from less to more, are little beneficial for health. This is due to several issues.
Cocoa, as we said contains various types of potentially beneficial substances for health: various polyphenols and antioxidants, micronutrients, iron, calcium and others. However, adding some substances such as cocoa butter milk may limit its bioavailability. This occurs through the process of removing and adding butter. Milk, on the other hand, also affects the absorption of iron and other trace elements.
On the other hand, Chocolates of less than 70% usually contain a large amount of sugar. As we already know the added, or free, sugar is one of the great scourges of our current nutrition. Something similar happens to cocoa butter. Both substances are arranged in the product to be more palatable, but this also makes them less healthy.
In short, a good chocolate should have a high cocoa content, if possible more than 70%, low content of added sugars and little added cocoa butter. This way nwe assure you that we eat the least amount of substances unhealthy and that the healthy properties of cocoa are maintained as much as possible.
How much chocolate can I eat a day?
In addition to the above, cocoa is attributed with potential antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects that improve cardiometabolic health. What’s more, this study proved that the consumption of chocolate, despite being a food concentrated in energy, it is associated with lower cardiometabolic risk, regardless of whether physical activity is performed or not. It could even help regulate body weight.
But that should not lead us to eat it uncontrollably. In fact, as with everything (and although it sounds terribly generic), chocolate has to be eaten in moderation. Although there are not too many studies on the maximum amounts of intake per day, some researchers suggest that between 20 and 25 grams per day is a correct measure.
Usually, one ounce a day is an appropriate way to measure, without exceeding control, moderate consumption. Despite its potential benefits, we must not forget that chocolate (as well as non-defatted or sugary cocoa) is a highly caloric product, and an excess of sugars and fats will never be healthy.
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