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Sweet Secrets: The Hidden Minerals in Chocolate

The , renowned for its luxurious treats, is expected to reach a market value of $137.8 billion by 2029. Closely associated with indulgence and pleasure, most of us consider chocolate as a guilty pleasure, often overlooking its nutritious dimensions. However, did you know that chocolate harbors a little sweet secret? It's a treasure trove of essential minerals! This article will unwrap the hidden and help you look at your favorite treat in a new, healthier light.

What minerals are in cacao powder?

Cacao powder, the raw and unprocessed form of , is incredibly rich in essential minerals. In fact, an ounce (28 grams) of high-quality, unprocessed cacao powder can provide noteworthy levels of several minerals.

For instance, it packs about 429mg of potassium (roughly 12% of daily value), a mineral that helps regulate fluid balance and nerve signals in your body. You would also get approximately 64mg of magnesium (around 15% of daily value), which plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions including metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and proteins.

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Additionally, cacao powder nourishes you with iron (approximately 3.9mg per ounce which is about 21% of daily value). Iron is vital for the production of red blood cells in your body. Not to mention, the powder is rich in calcium (offering about 27.6mg per ounce), copper, and manganese too, playing a significant role in bone health and various cellular functions.

Just remember, the processing of cacao into powder or into can, unfortunately, result in mineral losses. So, getting hold of high-quality chocolate or raw cacao powder is crucial for reaping these mineral benefits.

What is the main nutrient in cocoa powder?

Despite being a minefield of so many minerals, the mineral that's in the greatest concentration in cocoa powder is magnesium. An ounce of natural, unsweetened cocoa powder contains about 65 mg of magnesium, making it one of the highest plant-based sources of the mineral.

Magnesium, fondly dubbed the “relaxation mineral“, is pivotal for numerous body functions. It contributes to healthy bones, cardiovascular health, and even the regulation of your mood and sleep patterns.

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Benefit of Calcium

As already mentioned, cacao powder also serves as a good source of calcium. Now, let's dive a little deefper into why calcium is so significant in our diet.

Calcium, accounting for about 1 to 2 percent of our total body weight, is the most abundant mineral in the human body. This superstar mineral not only aids in building and maintaining strong bones and healthy teeth, but it also contributes to the proper functioning of our heart, muscles, and nerves.

On top of that, calcium is necessary for blood clotting, hormone secretion and even for sending and receiving nerve signals. The limit for calcium intake for adults sits at about 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day. A lack of this mineral may lead to a condition called hypocalcemia which can have adverse effects on your health, including weak or brittle nails and fainting. On the other hand, too much calcium could lead to kidney or cardiovascular problems or even interfere with the absorption of other minerals.

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In conclusion, the key to enjoying all these healthful benefits from chocolate lies in moderation and choosing high-quality chocolate products.

Minerals in Chocolate: Benefit of Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral that plays a pivotal role in many bodily functions. It's crucial for bone health, proper metabolism, and antioxidant function. Interestingly, there are valuable amounts of manganese present in chocolate, particularly in dark variants.

A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that cocoa powder has approximately 1.3 micrograms of manganese per gram. Considering that the recommended daily intake of manganese for adults is between 1.8 and 2.3 milligrams based on the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it's fair to say that chocolate can serve as a delightfully enjoyable source for this nutrient.

However, like with any mineral, consuming too much manganese may cause adverse effects. The tolerable upper intake level for adults is 11 milligrams per day. To put that into perspective, it means one would have to consume over 8 kilograms of chocolate in a day to reach this threshold.

Minerals in Chocolate: Benefit of Magnesium

Moving on, let's turn our attention to another hidden mineral in chocolate – magnesium. Magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. Playing a vital role in functions ranging from protein synthesis to blood sugar control, magnesium is truly indispensable.

Cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate, is considered an excellent source of magnesium. According to a publication in Nutrients, a 100-gram serving of dark chocolate (70-85% cacao) provides around 228 milligrams of magnesium. This impressive figure presents over 50% of the recommended daily intake for adults, which ranges between 310 and 420 milligrams.

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As for the potential drawbacks, the NIH sets the upper limit for magnesium supplementation at 350 milligrams for adults, but this guideline does not apply to magnesium derived naturally from food sources. Yet, consuming extremely large amounts of chocolate to reach high levels of magnesium is not recommended due to its high sugar and calorie content.

Minerals in Chocolate: Benefit of Phosphorus

Lastly, let's uncover the benefits of the often-overlooked mineral found in chocolate – phosphorus. This essential mineral contributes significantly to bone health, as well as the function and production of DNA and RNA.

Dark chocolate is a good source of phosphorus, with around 208 milligrams found in a 100-gram bar, according to the United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for phosphorus is between 700 milligrams for adults, making chocolate a notable contributor to meeting this requirement.

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However, excessive phosphorus, which is defined as above the tolerable upper limit of 4,000 mg per day for adults by the NIH, may result in impaired kidney function and depleted levels of calcium, which may lead to bone loss. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to occur from eating chocolate due to its relatively moderate phosphorus content.

This brief overview provides a glance into the hidden world of minerals in chocolate, making it clear that this sweet treat offers much more than its indulgent taste.

Minerals in Chocolate: Benefit of Potassium

One of the key minerals found in chocolate is potassium. This essential mineral plays a vital role in our overall health. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should aim for about 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day, a threshold that many fail to reach. Found in chocolate, potassium is essential for building proteins, breaking down and consuming carbohydrates, regulating body growth and maintaining normal body growth.

potassium is abundant in banana. learn about potassium in cocoa powder (minerals in chocolate)

The cocoa bean from which chocolate is made is a rich source of potassium. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100 g bar of dark chocolate contains close to 715 mg of potassium. This is crucial information for chocolate lovers as the regular consumption within dietary limits can help in maintaining a healthy balance of electrolytes in the body.

Minerals in Chocolate: Benefit of Zinc

Another often overlooked mineral present in chocolate is Zinc. This mineral is essential for numerous biochemical processes, including enzyme function, protein synthesis, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. According to the National Institute of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for zinc varies with age, gender, and other factors but for an average adult male, it is around 11 mg per day, and for an adult female, it is around 8 mg per day.

Dark chocolate, in particular, holds a substantial amount of zinc. According to the USDA, a 100 g bar of 70-85% dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of zinc, which represents a significant chunk of the daily recommended intake.

cocoa powder zinc contentCocoa Powder Zinc Content: The Immunity Booster

Benefit of Boron

Boron is a trace mineral found in chocolate, and while the body doesn't require large amounts of boron, it still plays an indispensable role for the body. It helps assist with cell function and reduce oxidative stress, among many other benefits. The exact dietary requirements for boron are not yet definitively established, though the National Institutes of Health suggest a daily intake of 1.0 to 1.5 mg.

Cocoa powder, a primary ingredient in chocolate, contains trace amounts of boron. Including chocolate in one's diet, therefore, can add to the daily boron intake, contributing to a balanced nutrient profile.

To sum up, chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is not just a comfort food or delectable dessert but a remarkable source of essential minerals that contribute significantly to our health. The balance of potassium, zinc, and boron found in a humble piece of chocolate underscores how this beloved treat can play a part in maintaining general health. Therefore, indulge in your chocolate cravings from time to time, but as always, remember that moderation is key. And as they say, a piece of chocolate a day could very well keep the doctor away.

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