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Chocolate: is it good for you?

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Medical Health

Author: Holly Prince, Posted: Wednesday, 24th February 2016, 08:00

There has been much debate in the health world over whether eating chocolate is beneficial to health or not. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of one of our most popular treats.

Chocolate is well-known for making people feel happy. This elated mood is due to the release of tryptophan, serotonin and endorphins, which are the chemicals that make us feel good. However, the high sugar content of chocolate can cause mood swings due to the sharp rise and fall of the blood-glucose level.

Aiding endurance and altertness
Small amounts of caffeine, which is found in chocolate as well as coffee, can aid endurance and alertness, and decrease feelings of fatigue. However, too much caffeine can cause restlessness, and can lead to an increase in headaches or migraines.

Cocoa butter, which is a main ingredient in chocolate, and particularly in dark chocolate, is rich in natural antioxidants, which are good for helping to prevent premature aging and for protecting cells from damage.

High in calories and saturated fat
Dark chocolate also contains small traces of minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium that lower cholesterol and blood pressure. However, the amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients in chocolate is so low that it is not all that beneficial.

Chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, which leads to weight gain and increases the risk of heart disease. Even if the chocolate is low in fat and calories, it will still contain oils that can cause a build-up of fat that puts pressure on the heart.

More studies need to be conducted on the effects of cocoa on cardiovascular health, as, so far, many have been inconclusive.

Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, is better than milk chocolate as it contains more pure cocoa and less fat and added sugar.

Chocolate is fine in moderation as a treat
Overall, it seems that an occasional small amount of chocolate may be of benefit to the body, but be mindful that eating too much in one sitting is not good for you.

Like everything in life, balance is best, so chocolate is fine in moderation as a treat. A good idea is to eat it after a meal so that you don’t consume too much, or with fresh fruit and nuts as part of a balanced diet.

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