Chocolate | Saintly or Sinful?

Over the years, chocolate has attracted a bad reputation for being a ‘naughty’ or ‘unhealthy’ food, due – for the most part – to its high sugar and fat content. 

But did you know that eating the right types of chocolate can actually have positive effects on your health and wellbeing? But before you go reaching for a spoon and a jar of Nutella; as a general rule, the higher the cocoa content, the more health benefits it is reported to contain. 

This is thanks to increasing levels of flavonoids and flavanols – also known as antioxidants – responsible for destroying ‘free radicals’ in the body – chemicals that can cause damage to DNA and other cell compounds, accelerating ageing and contributing to heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.

Be sure to always check nutrition labels on chocolate before consumption, as brands vary widely and always consult your doctor on health conditions before vastly changing your diet. 

Take a look at some of the ways chocolate can be beneficial for your body…

Staying heart-healthy 

The presence of plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) in chocolate have been studied in relation to their effect on ‘bad cholesterol’ in the body. Research concluded that dark chocolate, consumed regularly in small amounts, may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.

Decreasing risk of stroke or stroke-related death 

A study involving over 44,000 people found that people who regularly consumed chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke; and those who had had a stroke were 46 percent less likely to die as a result. 

Weight loss

Nope, eating an entire sharing box of Maltesers isn’t going to make you drop pounds overnight. But studies show that small daily amounts of dark chocolate can help stabilise blood sugar levels; controlling appetite and reducing cravings. It can also improve your mood, curbing the desire to eat comfort foods and help you make better food choices. 

Feeling good!

Speaking of good mood, cocoa beans contain dopamine and serotonin – compounds known to enhance mood and promote feelings of happiness, similar to those experienced after exercising. They also contain phenylethylamine, a compound known for increasing libido and energy levels.

Excerpts from Medical News Today