The most common reason for eating chocolate is a pleasure, but there are in fact potential health benefits if eaten in moderation. Chocolate is available for enjoyment in many forms from the simple chocolate bar through to a sumptuous chocolate fountain.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are found on the cacao tree. As this is a plant, the beans themselves actually contain a lot of the health benefits which are found in vegetables. The cacao plant is full of nutrients and flavonoids which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body and in particular the heart, protecting it from heart disease. Flavonoids are also found in tea and in wine. They have a similar effect on blood pressure; as they can help reduce high blood pressure and some tests have shown, help lower cholesterol.
Dark chocolate, in particular, contains a large number of antioxidants, nearly 8 times more than what is found in fresh strawberries. Dark chocolate which contains more than 65 – 70% cocoa is seen as the best type to improve health. Anything less does not contain the same level of antioxidants.
Chocolate has several other benefits
stimulates endorphin production, which increases brain activity, heart rate and is able to give a feeling of pleasure
contains serotonin which can act as an antidepressant
contains theobromine and caffeine which are other stimulants.
Improves your skin tone with the antioxidants
Myths about chocolate
Chocolate cause acne
There is no evidence to suggest that chocolate can cause acne. Many experts have said that they doubt your diet plays any role in the condition of your skin. It is believed that acne is caused by oils in the skin along with high levels of bacteria within the skin.
Chocolate causes weight gain
The truth is it is not just about what you eat, but more about the quantities. If you have a healthy balanced diet and keep your portion sizes under control then a small amount of chocolate daily will not have any adverse effect.
Chocolate causes tooth decay
Items such as sweets and chocolate are not solely responsible for causing tooth decay. Starch and sugars that are found in foods such as pasta, juice, bread and sweets mix with bacteria in the mouth and create an acid. This is what damages the tooth enamel. Prevention of tooth decay or cavities can be done with regular fluoride use.
By including a small amount of chocolate in your daily or weekly diet will add additional calories, so be sure to reduce your calorie intake elsewhere. The average chocolate bar contains between 250-400 calories and also contains a lot of fat. By including dark chocolate in your diet you will need to subtract the equivalent amount of calories to ensure you gain the health benefits you are trying to increase.
Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. It appears that chocolate containing more than 70% of cocoa is able to have this health claim.
All of the studies that I have researched have been sure to include that they would “recommend a low fat, salt, and sugar diet that includes carbohydrates and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables”.