“Ms FeetUp, you can’t possibly need that whole block to yourself”
“Darling, you’re lucky I’m limiting myself to the one!”
I hear that comment quite often. One day I decided that I was tired of people commenting on my chocolate habit so I did some research. Did you know that chocolate is almost a health food?
Well, perhaps it isn’t quite as healthy as I’d like it to be but at least I can justify my obsession in the face of all those objections. I have compiled this list of the benefits of chocolate so that you too can have a ready response next time someone looks snidely at your chocolate stash.
I should also mention that no chocolate was harmed in the process of my research although a few blocks were demolished.
The good things chocolate does for you:
- The Hershey Research centre did a study on cocoa vs. fruit powders. The results showed that chocolate has more antioxidants and flavonoids, especially dark chocolate.
- Chocolate is good for the mood. It causes the body to produce endorphins, which stimulate the pleasure center of the brain.
- Nutritionists say that chocolate is not fattening if eaten in moderation.
- Chocolate protects against heart disease and cancer. It’s all those little antioxidants in there that are doing you good.
- If you’re really worried about putting on weight , try drinking cocoa instead of eating chocolate, since it generally has a much lower fat content.
- There are properties in chocolate that reduce the likelihood of blood clots so that helps prevent stroke.
- Chocolate makes you live longer. Truly. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the study.
- It’s possible that chocolate helps ease the symptoms of menopause. Dark chocolate relaxes the body and can boost your immune system.
- We know that chocolate is essential for coping with PMS. Ask the many husbands who use it as a defence mechanism at that time of the month.
- Recent studies by Nestle say that chocolate can improve the health of the bacteria in your gut.
So, chocolate really can be good for your health. I should point out that the research refers to dark chocolate which has a high content of antioxidants and other minerals.
If you’d like some more technical detail, have a look at this.
Better Health Victoria lists the following nutrients and tells us how they help our bodies:
• Protein – needed for cell maintenance and repair.
• Fat – varies, but chocolate is generally 30–45 per cent fat, of which about half is saturated fat.
• Vitamin E – a fat-soluble vitamin essential for cell membranes.
• Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium – minerals essential for strong bones and teeth.
• Iron – needed to form haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying compound in blood.
• Caffeine and theobromine – nervous system stimulants.
• Copper – assists iron metabolism, formation of melanin (in hair and skin) and functioning of the central nervous system.
• Sugars – varies, but often make up about 50 per cent.
• Antioxidant phytochemicals (such as flavonoids) – cocoa beans, the main ingredient of chocolate (particularly dark chocolate), contain more than 600 plant chemicals, including antioxidants, that may protect against heart disease and cancer.