Eat Chocolate! It’s good for you…well, it might be…in sensible amounts…if it’s proper chocolate.
That’s the verdict of the British Dietetic Association (as of 2012).
““It is thought that cocoa beans have been considered to have health benefits from as long ago as the Aztecs, when they used the beans in many of their medicinal concoctions, to treat a number of common ailments. In more recent years, analysis of the beans has shown that the cocoa liqueur contained in the bean is rich in polyphenols and thought to have antioxidant effects within the body. The type of polyphenols in the beans are known as flavanoids, and are similar to those found in green tea leaves and red wine. It is the presence of such chemical components that word has been spread, that no longer is chocolate so bad for you after all, but may actually be good for your health! And there is some evidence to support such claims that the antioxidant action may help to protect our hearts, but only as part of a healthy and balanced diet.”
So that’s all right then! You can carry on scoffing! Well, with a bit of caution anyway.
So which is best – dark or milk chocolate. I like milk chocolate best but suspect that dark chocolate is better for me. This is what the BDA have to say:
“There is some evidence to suggest that the polyphenol content in dark chocolate will offer more antioxidant effects after consumption than milk chocolate. And the theory behind looking for percentage cocoa content in each chocolate bar is right as this indicates a higher percentage of polyphenols after the chocolate has been made. However, although this may be the case it should only be consumed as part of a balanced and healthy diet rather than in huge amounts, as this will still give us too many calories from fat and sugar, as well as minimal nutrients compared to snacking on a piece of fruit. White chocolate doesn’t contain any of the cocoa liqueur and therefore doesn’t contain polyphenols offering the potential antioxidant effects.
Much more research is needed to investigate the health benefits chocolate consumption does have to offer and although some evidence is there it still doesn’t indicate how much chocolate would need to be eaten to show these benefits?”
Anyone fancy offering to take part in that research?
Then the BDA have put down 5 of the most common myths about chocolate. They make quite interesting reading!
1. Dark chocolate contains fewer calories than milk chocolate
False Both dark and milk chocolate contain roughly the same amount of calories per 100g, which is about 550kcals.
2. Chocolate gives you acne.
False There is no evidence to support this claim. Although some people feel that they are more sensitive to chocolate and this is reflected in their skin health so they prefer to avoid it.
3. Migraines are caused by chocolate.
False Chocolate does contain small amounts of tyramine and phenylethylamine, amino acids from the protein in chocolate, both of which can trigger a migraine. However there is no evidence to suggest that chocolate alone can cause them but perhaps as part of a number of triggers?
4. Chocolate makes you fat.
True and False It all depends on quantity consumed. If you were to eat a large chocolate bar every day on top of your usual daily intake then this could contribute to too many calories and therefore lead to some weight gain. However as part of a healthy and balanced diet and if you exercise within government recommendations for good health (30 mins moderate intensity 5 days per week), chocolate as a treat will not make you fat!
5. You can’t eat chocolate if you have diabetes.
False The myth behind avoiding chocolate if you have diabetes is well out of date. Yes it contains carbohydrates which when broken down into glucose it will raise your blood glucose levels. However if you have good control of your blood glucose and are not consuming too many carbohydrates in one sitting – there is no reason why you can’t have chocolate as a treat on occasion just like those who don’t have diabetes.”