It was Easter; Time For Chocolate!

Posted by Sarah Cox on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Under: nutrition

To me, there is nothing better than chocolate.  It's rich, smooth and creamy and makes us feel good.... until we start to feel guilty for eating it. 
However, do we need to feel guilty?  Is it all bad? 
There's no getting around the fact that chocolate is high in fat and calories, but there is growing evidence that, in small quantities, some kinds of chocolate may actually be good for you.
 
Dark chocolate is much better for you than milk chocolate, due to the higher cocoa and lower sugar content. Dark chocolate has a 65% cocoa content or higher.  The higher the %, the better it is for you. Aim not to have any that is less than 70% and ideally go for 85% or 90%.  
 
Dark chocolate is naturally rich in flavonoids, which act as antioxidants.  Antioxidants protect our cells from damage. The flavonoids in chocolate are thought to improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure and help protect against heart disease. Recent studies conducted both in the U.S. and Europe seem to support this, which has encouraged chocolate manufacturers, such as Mars, to develop ways of processing cocoa beans aimed specifically at preserving flavonoid content. Traditional methods are thought to destroy up to three-quarters of the beneficial flavonoids.
 

As we all know, chocolate can influence our mood. Scientists used to think that compounds in chocolate produced endorphins in the brain, elevating mood. But the amount of the compounds in chocolate is so small, it's probably not the cause of better feelings. Instead, it's probably the combination of sugar with fat raising the serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. 

  

However, just because there are several potential benefits, it doesn't mean that you should eat a bar of chocolate a day as it is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400-600 calories.  If you eat some chocolate every day, you need to balance that by eating less of something else. It needs to replace one of your other snacks, rather than being an addition to your snacks.  
 
So, just remember that when the urge to eat chocolate strikes, it's ok to have a bit.  Just limit it to one or two pieces of dark chocolate a day. It'll make you feel good, and it is likely to even do you some good too.

In : nutrition 


Tags: chocolate  'dark chocolate'  'is chocolate healthy'   

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Sarah Cox
Balham, London
Sarah Cox

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