The Nutrition Coach Blog London Nutritionist The Nutrition Coach offers advice on healthy living, nutrition and diet issues such as IBS, bloating, gluten intolerance and more.

Can chocolate be healthy?

I love London. Where else do you have a full week dedicated to chocolate, one of the most popular sweet treats in the world?

In case you missed Chocolate Week the other week and didn’t get to see or taste the largest truffle in the world, I’m dedicating this blog post to the health benefits of chocolate. Can eating chocolate really be good for you?

I know what you are thinking now: this is your lucky day! A nutritional therapist is about to tell you that you are allowed to eat chocolate without feeling guilty because of its health benefits. But before you storm off to raid the vending machine for your chunky chocolate bar, hold fire and read on.

It’s all down to the right kind of chocolate and, of course, the amount you eat. Know your enemies and choose them wisely, is my recommendation.

Chocolate comes from the cacao plant, and cacao is extraordinarily rich in flavanols, a type of flavonoid phytochemical. Research has shown the benefits of eating dark chocolate high in flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants commonly found in plant pigment that aid in strengthening the connective tissues of the blood vessels. Antioxidants are great and very important, they help neutralize free radicals, supporting the immune system by lowering the risk of infection, and help in fighting heart diseases and premature aging.

Now I’m not telling you to swap your anti-aging skin care products for dark chocolate, but think about swapping your daily afternoon milk chocolate bar with a few squares of high quality dark chocolate, and you may benefit from the following:

* A healthier heart and lower blood pressure – the high content of flavanols as well as minerals magnesium and copper in dark chocolate aids in regulating normal blood pressure
* Reduced stress levels – by stimulating the production of endorphins, dark chocolate may give rise to a happy feeling (in case you are upset about having missed another gym session due to your workload)
* Immune system boost – the two kinds of flavonoids present in chocolates are mainly catechins and epicatechins. Dark chocolate has more of catechins, which boosts the human body immune system and possibly prevent major chronic ailments.
* Lower cholesterol levels – dark chocolate has been medically proven to reduce the bad cholesterol level in the human body significantly, up to 10 to 12 percentage.

And if you’re feeling slightly depressed this month because it’s dark and cold out there, you will be pleased to hear dark chocolate contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter which has the qualities of anti-depressants.

There are definite health benefits to indulging in the occasional dark chocolate, but don’t forget chocolate is a calorie-rich food with high fat and sugar content. It also contains a variety of substances, some of which have addictive properties (e.g. sugar, theobromine and caffeine) which are stimulating and mood elevating. In the case of dark chocolate, the key word is quantity, and I’m talking 1-2 small squares. Too much of it may cause unwanted increases in your blood sugar levels and your weight, both cancelling out any health benefits you’re getting from the chocolate.

As for me I might pop to Hotel Chocolat now to buy some dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.



Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Nutrition coach
© 2016 The Nutrition Coach Ltd. All rights reserved. Web development by CreaCom Design.