Chocolate – Is it good for you?
Chocolate, don’t we all just love it! It is the ultimate comfort food, for all our highs and lows. But the guilt afterwards! Well, should we feel as guilty as we do? It seems there may be a number of health benefits associated with eating chocolate.
Chocolate does have a high calorie count because it contains large amounts of sugar and fat. In the past, its’ consumption has been linked with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
But, chocolate is made from cocoa and studies have now shown that there are chemical compounds in cocoa that may have beneficial effects on aging, blood pressure regulation, the brain and cardiovascular health.
Cocoa is loaded full of antioxidants, flavonoids and other health promoting compounds. Unfortunately, cocoa has a very strong, pungent taste and so has to go through several processes to reduce this taste. These processes, however, also reduce the health benefits.
Nevertheless, for a quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, 100g (a large bar!) contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and minerals, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorous, potassium, selenium and zinc. That is not to say we can gorge on chocolate bars galore! The potential health benefit in chocolate has to be weighed against the fact that chocolate still contains fat and sugar, lots of calories!
The studies have focused on cocoa, not chocolate as we know it, and further research is required before the links between chocolate and health benefits can be said to be conclusive. So, for now, enjoy moderate portions of chocolate, preferably dark, with a high cocoa content, 70% or above. In this case, a little of what you fancy really does do you no harm!