As Easter Sunday fast approaches, I thought you might like to know the good news that chocolate is good for you!
Health Benefit Claims of Eating Chocolate
Chocolate is a derivative of cocoa beans which are full of health benefits. They contain plant nutrients known as flavonoids, found naturally in fruit and vegetables. Flavanoids have been found to be rich in antioxidants as well as being anti-viral, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory. It is claimed that dark chocolate has as much as eight times the amount of Flavanoids as strawberries.
Improves Cognitive Function.
Flavanoids have also been linked with a reduction in memory loss in older people. The stimulants theobromine and caffeine are also found in chocolate and it has been suggested that they may help prevent neurodegeneration and conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
Provides Key Nutrients
Cocoa beans are rich in key nutrients that are often lacking in diets these days such as iron, zinc, magnesium potassium and selenium.
Good for Heart Health
Studies show that cocoa consumption increases HDL cholesterol whilst reducing LDL cholesterol, improving blood flow and thereby reducing risk factors commonly associated with heart disease and atrial fibrillation.
Reduces Risk of Stroke
Researchers in Finland claim that a study they carried out showed that consumption of chocolate lowered the risk of suffering a stroke by an average of 17 per cent in the group of men they tested.
Increases Insulin Sensitivity
The antioxidants in chocolate appear to make cells more sensitive to insulin whilst favourably moderating carbohydrate and fat metabolism, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.
Chocolate contains seretonin, recognised as having anti-depressant qualities. Flavanols, one of the types of Flavanoids present in chocolate are also linked to mood enhancing.
The Bad News – Not All Chocolate Is Good For You!
Before you take yourself off to fill your boots with all those chocolate eggs and bunnies you need to know that not all chocolate is created equal and not all of it is good for you! The reputed benefits of chocolate are based on those produced from a high content of real cocoa. Much of today’s commercial chocolate is loaded with extra sugar, fat, waxes and chemicals and will not contain the same benefits.
Tips to Reap Chocolate’s Health Benefits
- Choose chocolate with at least 60 per cent cocoa. Milk and white chocolate have virtually none of the health benefits found in real
- Look at the ingredients on chocolate and the order they appear (they are listed in order of quantity used). Avoid choosing anything that features sugar as the first ingredient
- Cheap brands replace cocoa butter with milk fats and hydrogenated oils so will contain less health
- If seeking more interest in your chocolate avoid fillings such as caramel and marshmallow and opt for a healthier alternative such as
Hopefully you will now feel able to enjoy your Easter without feeling deprived and make some informed healthy choices. Do bear in mind that whatever chocolate you choose, despite its reputed health benefits, it is still a calorie laden food, so as with most things, moderation is key!