So what’s the deal?
The next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel so guilty about it.
Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, a number of health benefits may be associated with this delicious treat.
Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds. Its earliest use dates back to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica.
Chocolate became very popular worldwide after the Europeans discovered the Americas, and its demand exploded.
Chocolate has since become a popular food product that millions enjoy daily, thanks to its unique, rich, and sweet taste.
But what effect does eating chocolate have on our health?
Fast facts on chocolate
- Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
- Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants.
- Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.
- Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
- People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should eat chocolate only in moderation.
(Check this post out if you are interested in the question: how many squares of dark chocolate each day is it ok to eat?).
Chocolate receives a lot of bad press because of its high fat and sugar content. Its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.
However, recent research shows that it’s not all bad news.
Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active phenolic compounds.
This has changed people’s views on chocolate and stimulated research into how it might impact ageing and conditions such as oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis.
Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits.
The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more benefits there are. Dark chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.
(You might also like to read this post asking: What is the best chocolate for diabetics?)
Eating chocolate may have the following benefits
- lowering cholesterol levels
- preventing cognitive decline
- reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems
Please note: chocolate does not contain only cocoa. The benefits and risks of other ingredients, such as sugar and fat, must be considered.
(You might also like to read this blog post answering the question: does chocolate go bad?)
The bottom Line
There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against heart disease.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go out and consume lots of chocolate daily. It’s still loaded with calories and easy to overeat.
Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to savour them. If you want the benefits of cocoa without the calories in chocolate, consider making hot cocoa without any cream or sugar.
Also, note that a lot of the chocolate on the market is not nutritious. So always check the label or buy from a reputable chocolate manufacturer.
Choose quality stuff: dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. You might want to check out this range of the best dark chocolate.
Dark chocolates typically contain some sugar, but the amounts are usually small, and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.
Chocolate is one of the few foods that taste awesome while providing significant health benefits.
More Interesting Chocolate-Flavoured Blogs to Read:
- Click here to read about World Chocolate Day
- Take a look at this post to read about: how long does it take chocolate to harden?
- Take a look at this post if you want to learn about tempering chocolate.
- Click here to find out what chocolate is vegan-friendly.
- Take a look at this post if you want to read about how to tell if chocolate has gone off.