We are often told that eating chocolate is good for your mood and will help to give you a boost of happiness during a long day. But what is the science behind this claim and is it something that we should all actually be doing?
Furthermore, are there additional health benefits to be gained from eating chocolate beyond improving your mood? There is much conflicting advice on whether we should be eating chocolate regularly, with several well-respected nutritionists on either side of the fence. Keep reading for a breakdown of this information that should help you to make your own mind up!
The Production Process
Chocolate is made by roasting cocoa beans and combining them with sugar. Other ingredients will also be added during the production process depending on the manufacturer.
There are several different types of chocolate, with milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate being the most popular varieties. Milk chocolate contains certain dairy milk components and will generally have a light appearance and sweet flavour. Dark chocolate will mostly be made up of cocoa and will be quite dark and bitter. And finally, white chocolate uses only cocoa butter instead of the beans, making it much sweeter than the other two types. White chocolat is favoured by bakers for its sweet flavour.
How Healthy is Chocolate?
When it comes to considering how healthy chocolate is, dark chocolate is widely acknowledged to be the optimum choice. For this reason, including dark chocolate in your diet every day is the type of chocolate we will discuss in this article for its potential health benefits.
Studies have shown that eating approximately 100g of dark chocolate every day can help to lower your blood pressure. Eating this chocolate every day could also help to improve cognitive function, as well as lowering levels of LDL cholesterol in the body and aiding digestion.
The Good Stuff
So why is dark chocolate so useful for the body? The answer lies with the nutritional make up of this delicious food.
A 100g serving of dark chocolate contains approximately 11g of fiber, 67% of your RDA of iron, 58% of your RDA of magnesium, 89% of your RDA of copper, 98% of your RDA of manganese and also an abundance of those all important antioxidants!
This same portion size also contains beneficial amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium! Dark chocolate is also known to stimulate the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that provide us with a pleasurable feeling. It also naturally contains serotonin which works as a kind of natural anti-depressant.
Choosing Dark Chocolate
Now that you know why dark chocolate is so great for you, you can aim to include a small amount in your diet every day! You might find that this is most easily done at the end of each day as a treat for yourself. 100g of dark chocolate isn't a large amount, however, if you are choosing added sugar varieites then the extra calories may soon start to add up.
You may find it more beneficial to your health to include a smaller amount, and to really give yourself permission to indulge in this pleasure!
If you want to get truly serious about consuming chocolate for its health benefits, then you may wish to try raw cacao instead.
Cacao is the raw, unprocessed version of chocolate, and can be consumed in this original state. Raw cacao is absolutely bursting with magnesium and flavanoids, making it an amazing choice for the body.
If you are someone who enjoys chocolate for it sweetness then you may find the flavour and taste of raw cacao to be less favourable. However, you can still enjoy the health benefits of it by adding it to other things, such as smoothies, or by using it in baking.
Eating for Health
When you are making a conscious effort to improve your health through your diet, it is always a good idea to do so in a whole way. This means that instead of looking for quick fixes, such as adding in certain foods, you should take a look at your entire diet.
Try to understand what your problem foods are, and why you consider them to be a problem. Do you over indulge in particular foods? Or, maybe you only turn to them when you are looking for comfort. You can also try to better understand which are the positive foods in your diet that are helping to enhance your health and wellness. Including these positive foods more often and seeking similar foods can go a long way to boosting your overall health!
Remember, eating should be a pleaure, and something that you look forwrds to each day. If you believe that your relationship to food has become unhealthy then consider talking to your doctor to explain and explore the issue.
If you are looking for more great advice on healthy foods to include, then check out this post on why you should be bananas for bananas!