Among the benefits of dark chocolate, people usually get reminded of the weight management benefit. Yes, the dark chocolate helps manage weight, but it is not the only advantage of dark chocolate. It also reduces the risk of higher blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and others.
Now, let us talk about the benefits of dark chocolate in children. Many researchers conducted extensive studies about the benefits of consuming dark chocolate in children. Before we go into the benefits, remember that dark chocolate also comes with considerable sugar, butter, and other additives. Thus, it is essential to take it in small amounts.
Antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate
Free radicals cause damage to healthy tissues leading to inflammation and other problems. Antioxidants help improve the child’s immunity and protect from many major illnesses caused by free radicals, including cancer. To enjoy dark chocolate’s antioxidant benefits, you ought to use chocolate with more than 60% of cocoa content.
The milk chocolate has a considerable amount of milk products in it, which reduces the antioxidants’ value. White chocolate has cocoa butter and no cocoa solids, and thus, lacks antioxidants.
Skin benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoid. This flavonoid helps to protect the skin by keeping it hydrated and protecting from sun damage. Other nutrients in dark chocolate help in improving skin density, which adds as a natural sunblock. Dark chocolate also helps to reduce skin redness and premature ageing. Some studies with adults show that dark chocolate also helps to improve hair quality and volume.
Benefits of dark chocolate for a learning child
Cocoa is an energy booster as it has psychoactive chemicals like caffeine and theobromine. It improves the efficiency of neurotransmitters, thereby improving cognitive development. A small dark chocolate piece in the morning is enough for a child to get through to lunch with good energy. The hippocampus region of the brain gets stimulated because of flavonoids in the chocolate. This stimulation improves better memory and concentration.
De-stress benefits of dark chocolate
Chocolate is a famous mood-lifting food. The chocolate helps the brain to release dopamine, called the happy hormone. This hormone helps in relaxation. People assume that kids are stress-free. Yes, they do lack the crucial life responsibilities and the stress that comes from it. However, kids do need relaxation, and a piece of chocolate would do the magic.
Macro and micronutrients
It is easier to get magnesium, zinc, and other micronutrients via chocolate. Apart from these, chocolate also has Vitamin E, A1, C, B1, and B2. These nutrients will keep the child energetic and reduce snack craving. Childhood obesity is statistically raising, and it is important to keep your kids in a healthy weight. It would help if you fed cooked broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, apricot, raisin, or cantaloupe to your kid to gain potassium. If your kid does not prefer eating any of those, a small piece of dark chocolate per day will do the adequate work.
A good source of fiber for children
A 100g dark chocolate bar with 70% of cocoa or more contains 11g of fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system. Moreover, it also helps the body to absorb nutrients from the food effectively. Children are particularly picky eaters, and the fiber will help their body absorb the optimal level of the nutrients. Fiber is also essential for maintaining a good weight.
Dark chocolate and eye sight
Recent studies proved that consuming dark chocolate can enhance visual performance. Chocolate helps to improve the blood flow to the brain and retina. According to a study, this increased blood flow helped improve the brain’s ability to perceive low contrast letters.
Dark chocolate, the tooth fairy
The most common misconception among parents is the link between chocolate and tooth decay. Dark chocolate does not cause tooth decay but helps in reducing the plaque. However, consuming candy and chocolates in larger quantities and improper dental hygiene would lead to tooth decay.
Choosing the right chocolate for your kid
It is explicit that dark chocolate with 60 to 80 percent cacao content is healthy for your kid. How to choose the right chocolate? The first element to consider is the ingredient. No chocolate brand would label the sugars as the first ingredient in the nutrient chart. However, chocolate comes with an ample amount of sugar and artificial colors and flavors. It is best to choose the one with no artificial ingredients to reap the benefits of dark chocolate.
Some parents go for low-sugar or low-fat chocolates to make it healthy for the kids. Low-sugar product is not a healthy option if the brand adds artificial sweeteners to match up the taste. A low-fat option is available only in milk chocolate and white chocolate varieties. Although theoretically, low-fat chocolates are healthier, there are no extensive studies to prove the same.
Check out the ingredients for the oil/butter content. Chocolate needs butter for preparation. A bar of good quality chocolate uses cocoa butter. If the brand uses coconut oil or palm oil, it is best to avoid those.
Right amount of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate indeed gives numerous benefits, but it is not healthy to eat a large chocolate bar every day. Beyond fat and sugar, a bar of dark chocolate comes with a large portion of caffeine. How much should a child consume per day? The first element to consider is your child’s tolerance level. A child prone to hyperactivity should consume considerably less. A child with a very active routine can add an extra piece of chocolate to the daily requirement.
The best option to reap the benefits of dark chocolate is buying unsweetened cocoa powder and using it to make desserts. Such a home-made item will have no preservative, chemical additives, or other unwanted ingredients. Dark chocolate is quite bitter, and with more than 60% of cocoa content, children might find it unpalatable. Thus, brands add more sugar and flavoring agents to match the taste. Do not fall for this marketing style and always go for the natural product.