The health benefits of chocolate

The health benefits of chocolate

Hooray for chocolate!

It's impossible to escape chocolate at this time of year. The supermarket shelves were recently groaning under the weight of assorted Easter eggs since, oooh, about a day after Valentine's Day. When it comes to overindulgence, Easter probably beats even Christmas in terms of chocolate consumption.

So here's the dilemma for anyone concerned with healthy eating at this time of year: Is it possible to indulge in the delight of chocolate without sacrificing your health in the process?

The answer is a happy, loud, resounding YES!!! Chocolate, in principle, is great for you:

  • It helps to combat the ageing process! The flavonoids in cocoa act as antioxidants in the body, mopping up free radicals that are associated with ageing and disease processes.
  • It can protect cardiovascular health! Cocoa can lower blood pressure and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels.
  • It's a natural mood booster! There's a neurochemical reason why eating chocolate cheers us up: It stimulates the production of endorphins (the hormones that allow us to experience pleasure) and increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation.

But just pause a moment before you grab that crème egg (other sickly sweet Easter eggs are available). When it comes to health benefits, not all chocolate is created equal. In fact, most chocolate has very low levels of the superfood cocoa and very high levels of sugar and fat, and is far from good for you.

The key to enjoying chocolate the healthy way lies in focusing on high cocoa content (think 70% plus) and enjoying it in moderation. Avoid chocolate with lots of other stuff added to it – fruit, nuts, flavourings and so on – as this mostly just increased its sugar content. A few squares of high-intensity, good quality dark chocolate will be far more satisfying than a large amount of sugary junk, making it easier to enjoy in moderation. And make sure you take your time to focus on the pleasure of eating it.

If you do fall prey to the ubiquitous temptations of sugary chocolate products, take heart: There's nothing like a good workout to repair the effects of overindulgence!

 

 

Comments

Elliot M.
8 May 2014

Elliot M.

Best have some chocolate, I'm starving!

michelle r.
5 May 2014

michelle r.

Now a days you can buy dark choc just as cheap as milk ! Look around just like you did for payasugym . Com

Sasha B.
4 May 2014

Sasha B.

Chocolate is really only healthy if it's dark and bitter. Raw is even better. Those easter eggs did our bodies no good whatsoever. But they made us feel really good - and that's worth a lot, in my opinion!

Sarah L.
30 April 2014

Sarah L.

definitely the dark chocolate for me. And two squares a night. Tricky, but it can be done.

Olivia C.
30 April 2014

Olivia C.

I'm sooo pleased to read about the health benefits of choc again! It really does boost the spirits and makes me feel slightly less guilty following the overload of Easter!

Tanya M.
30 April 2014

Tanya M.

The cost of dark dark chocolate is off putting sometimes but if you're buying less and eating less than a huge bar of milk chocolate or something the price probably ends up worth it. So soon after Easter it's hard to look past the eggs though!

Frank H.
30 April 2014

Frank H.

It's far too easy to keep eating and eating when it comes to chocolate. The 'right' amount is so difficult to gauge! I try and add it to other things and always get 80% cocoa solids as a minimum. It's so bitter you can't actually eat that much anyway but still has the sweetness chocolate needs.

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