Dark Chocolate Gifts
With Health Benefits

Read below to learn the health benefits of dark chocolate. You will see that you can indulge in this rich, melt-in-your-mouth delicacy - and be healthier for it!

Then you can drop hints for gifts or, better yet, take the initiative and buy some for yourself. This may be the beginning of a new love in your life if you haven’t already fallen for this magnificent chocolate.

Here are many reasons and excuses to try it...

1.   An explanation of why it is called “dark” chocolate and how it tastes.
2.   Description of why it is considered healthy chocolate.
3.   Description of the ingredients of this rich chocolate.

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What is Dark Chocolate and
How Does it Taste?

The basic ingredients are cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. It has a higher content of the essence of chocolate – the cocoa materials – than milk chocolate, which has milk or milk powder added, or white chocolate, that has no chocolate solids. This gives it a richer chocolately taste that many people prefer.

There is a great range of excellent dark chocolate available for eating and cooking. Differences depend on the quality of the cocoa beans and how they are processed. But mainly the differences depend the proportion of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla or other flavorings. Depending on the amount of sugar added, it can taste from slightly sweet (semisweet) to bittersweet. It is typically used for cooking and baking such as frosting a birthday cake.

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What are its Health Benefits?

Great news – dark chocolate has health benefits!

It is becoming increasingly popular due to the antioxidants it contains, which appear to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants are in the flavonoids-found in many fruits and vegetables. The Cleveland Clinic Heart Center states that dark chocolate, which has the higher level of flavonoids, provides the most antioxidant power. Click on History of Chocolate page for a picture of these plants.

It contains much more of the flavonoid-containing cocoa than milk or white chocolate. Standard chocolate manufacturing destroys up to half of the flavonoids but chocolate companies have now learned to make chocolate that keeps up to 95% of its flavonoids. It contains more flavonoids than any other food, including green tea, black tea, red wine, and blueberries.

Last year the American Heart Association reported, for persons with high blood pressure, a daily serving of flavonol-rich chocolate might lower your blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Researchers studied the effect on lowering blood pressure among people with hypertension and found favorable results.

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Amazingly, research has determined that a compound found in cocoa is more effective than codeine as a cough suppressant. (Persistent Coughs Melt Away with Chocolate, New Scientist, 11-22-04) A “dose” of only 50g was found effective.

So, in addition to pleasing your palette, indulging, in moderation, has health benefits. Just substitute it for other less healthy sweets.

Not many people know that dark chocolate is as healthy as it is, due to it's high number of antioxidants and flavonoids. Don't be behind the crowd with regard to healthcare information, and instead consider a masters degree from Saint Joseph University Online.

What are the Ingredients?

It contains cocoa solids sometimes referred to as cocoa “liquor” (but no alcohol content) and cocoa butter, both derived from roasted and ground cocoa beans, along with sugar and often vanilla or occasionally other flavorings.

The “darkest,” bitter chocolate contains the highest proportion of the cocoa solids - up to 75% - while a good semisweet chocolate has a minimum of 45-50% cocoa solids.

The higher quality varieties have a high percentage of cocoa solids and uses only cocoa butter and not other (cheaper) vegetable fat substitutes.

Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the bean during the process of making chocolate. It is very stable, containing natural antioxidants that aides storage life.

Pictures of cocoa beans are on the History of Chocolate page.

It is very interesting how chocolate is made - from its origin within the beans in a pod on a tree which are then processed into the chocolate as we know it.

For now, buy some good quality dark chocolate and enjoy the rich taste of this delicacy!

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