A polyphenol antioxidant is a type of antioxidant containing a polyphenolic substructure. Cocoa found in chocolate contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. The flavonoids, including catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins provide the major source of this antioxidant activity. The tricyclic structure of the flavonoids determines antioxidant effects that scavenge reactive oxygen species, chelate Fe2+ and Cu+, inhibit enzymes, and upregulate antioxidant defenses. Antioxidant effects of cocoa may directly influence insulin resistance and, in turn, reduce risk for diabetes.
Effect on Vascular System
The epicatechin content of cocoa is mainly responsible for chocolates impact on vascular endothelium via its effect on both acute and chronic upregulation of nitric oxide production. Other cardiovascular effects are mediated through anti-inflammatory effects of cocoa polyphenols.
Mineral Components of Choclate
Chocolate also contains a variety of minerals that are essential to good nutrition. These include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Each of these minerals plays important roles in a variety of biological functions, including growth, bone formation, metabolism and oxygen transport within the blood. Mineral values in milk and dark chocolate are as follows:
For the United States
Mineral Milk Chocolate Bar
(1.3 oz) Dark Chocolate Bar
(1.3 oz) Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)*
Calcium 84.04 mg 14.25 mg 1,000 mg
Phosphorous 95.04 mg 58.77 mg 1,000 mg
Magnesium 26.4 mg 51 mg 400 mg
Iron 0.61 mg 1.38 mg 18 mg
Zinc 0.6 mg 0.71 mg 15 mg
Copper 0.169 mg 0.3 mg 2.0 mg
*RDI's -- www.vm.cfscan.fda.gov/~lrd/
Effects on Serotonin Levels and endorphins
Dark chocolate is believed to boost brain levels of endorphins (natural opiates) as well as serotonin (a mood-altering chemical on which many antidepressants act). Because it can increase serotonin levels in the brain, dark chocolate may also increase serotonin production in the gut, and thus help your immune system.
Reading and References