nutrition wellness
The health benefits of chocolate

Chocolate is a very popular food product because of its unique rich and sweet taste. Millions of us enjoy this delicious treat. Chocolate is also associated with being the ultimate comfort food, a mood enhancer and many indulge in it for its feel good factors. However, chocolate also has a bad reputation for making us fat! It is associated with causing weight gain and a number of other health and medical related conditions. Some of these include obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and acne.   

So what are the facts. Is chocolate bad for us? Obviously if you over indulge on a consistent basis (especially the high sugar type) it can cause us health issues.

There are a host of medically proven ways in which chocolate such as, high quality chocolate; dark chocolate in particular, with a cocoa percentage of around seventy per cent or more can be good for us.

Dark chocolate is a very good source of antioxidants. Research has shown that high good quality dark chocolate may be beneficial for health related issues such as; obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even ageing in general.

Numerous research and studies have revealed the following facts about chocolate consumption:

  • Chocolate consumption has been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and hypertension.
  • Some research shows that chocolate as antioxidant properties, while other experts reject this claim. 
  • Chocolate can lead to tooth decay due to the high sugar content.
  • Chocolate contains a large number of calories.
  • The darker the chocolate, the more flavanoids and flavanols it contains.

(Further research is ongoing on these facts).

Dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health:

  • Chocolate makes you feel better: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins. PEA is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love.
  • Chocolate can help you lose weight. Neuroscientist Will Clower says “A small square of good choc melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say “I’m full”, cutting the amount of food you subsequently consume. Finishing a meal with the same small trigger could reduce subsequent snacking”.
  • The Flavanols found in dark chocolate are thought to reduce memory loss in older people. Also helping with blood flow.
  • The anti-inflammatory qualities have been found beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion and in blood flow.
  • High quality dark chocolate is rich in Fibre, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Magnesium and a few other minerals. 

There is a lot of evidence and studies that show cocoa can provide many positive health benefits, i.e. protect against cardiovascular disease and improve blood flow. However, this does not mean we should consume lots of chocolate. It is still full of calories.

If you are going to eat chocolate opt for dark chocolate which often contains some sugar, but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain. Buy high quality organic, dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Stick to having a square or two after dinner and try to really savour the chocolate. Chocolate is best consumed and enjoyed in moderation.



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