What is really the truth about this rich tasting and “addictive” snack that both children and adults love? Chocolate is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. Recent research shows that it may have beneficial effects on people’s health when it is consumed in the correct amounts and in the proper “form”.
The most common “forms” of chocolate that are available on the market are:
- Dark chocolate or couverture.
- Bitter chocolate with 65% percent cocoa concentration.
- Sweet chocolate with hazelnut flavor.
- Milk chocolate.
- White chocolate.
5 truths about chocolate.
1. Chocolate is a good source of zinc – an essential trace element that helps strengthen the immune system, preserves the sense of smell and in the creation of proteins and DNA. A larger amount of zinc is found in unsweetened chocolate and raw powdered chocolate (cacao).
2. The consumption of the flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, seems to be good for your heart’s health, since it improves arterial flexibility that may contribute to lowering blood pressure, strokes and other health problems associated with blood clotting.
3. Some of the fats contained in chocolate don’t have a negative effect on cholesterol levels. Research conducted in America has shown that the consumption of 50 g of dark chocolate a day may help lower bad cholesterol LDL and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol.
4. The cocoa, chocolate contains may increase the production of endorphins in the brain and help fight depression and anxiety – provided, of course, that it is consumed in the correct quantities.
5. The consumption of dark chocolate that is rich in flavonoids seems to also help increase the metabolism of sugars in the blood. This may have a positive result in diabetic patients since they can lower the use of insulin. This particular subject needs much more research, but there are some very positive results. If you are a patient and you want to make any changes on your diet, you should definitely get advice from your doctor or another medical professional.
5 myths about chocolate.
1. Chocolate contributes to weight gain. The truth is that every type of food can contribute to weight gain, from the moment it is consumed in a larger amount than the body requires. If you have a small amount of chocolate per week, it will certainly help avoid overconsuming chocolate when you feel that your body needs it.
2. Chocolate can cause acne. Recent research shows that chocolate has nothing to do with this and it is a myth. Acne is usually the result of high levels of bacteria and oiliness in the skin.
3. Chocolate causes headaches. Once again, there seems to be no connection between chocolate and headaches, according to research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.
4. Chocolate contains a large amount of caffeine. Quite the contrary, chocolate contains very small amounts of caffeine – about 6 mg - that is about the same amount contained in a decaf coffee.
5. Chocolate causes dental problems. Overconsumption of chocolate and sweets or products that are high in sugars, combined with neglecting your dental hygiene, can cause problems with your teeth. If someone follows basic dental hygiene rules, use dental floss and don’t consume large quantities of sweets, then a small amount of chocolate will certainly not cause any dental issues. Of course, you can check with a dentist, in case you need to have more expert advice.
Remember that when you follow a balanced diet and you consume the right amounts of macros your body requires, then the consumption of chocolate in the right amounts and in the proper form, may offer positive results for your health!
This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.