Chocolate – to eat or not to eat
Another Easter is upon us, and no doubt chocolates will be a feature of the holiday period. It is after all, one of life’s most decadent treats. For some however, it is not limited to this annual tradition, it forms part of their daily intake.
So let’s look at the pros and cons, surely we don’t need to abstain completely, from something so decadently delicious. That would be a fate worse than any Shakespearean tragedy.
Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, can have potential health benefits when consumed in moderation.
Cocoa contains flavanols, which are a type of antioxidant that may help to reduce inflammation. Flavanols are related to the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes your blood vessels and improves blood flow. In turn, this also lowers blood pressure.
Better blood flow is also great for our overall health.
Dark chocolate is packed full of important minerals, including iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and phosphorus. In your body, these minerals are used to support factors such as immunity (zinc), can help keep your bones and teeth healthy (phosphorus), and contribute to better sleep quality (magnesium).
Dark chocolate has long been associated with feelings of pleasure and enjoyment. Those feelings may originate from what are called polyphenolic compounds.
Polyphenols are antioxidants that lower cortisol, a stress hormone, so there are mood-enhancing benefits to eating dark chocolate.
However, it’s important to note that not all chocolate is created equal. Milk chocolate and white chocolate often have much lower levels of cocoa solids and higher levels of sugar and fat, which can negate any potential health benefits.
Dark chocolate has between 50% and 90% cocoa solids, while milk chocolate has between 10% and 50%.
Additionally, chocolate is still a high-calorie food, and overconsumption can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
Therefore, it’s recommended to enjoy chocolate in moderation as part of a balanced diet and overall sound nutrition plan.
How is chocolate made ?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are the seeds of the cacao tree. Here is a general overview of the process of making chocolate:
- Harvesting: Cocoa pods are harvested by hand, and the beans inside are removed from the pods.
- Fermentation: The beans are then fermented for several days to develop their flavor and aroma.
- Drying: After fermentation, the beans are dried in the sun or using artificial methods to remove excess moisture.
- Roasting: Once the beans are dried, they are roasted to bring out their flavor and aroma further.
- Grinding: The roasted beans are then ground into a paste called cocoa mass or cocoa liquor.
- Separation: The cocoa mass is then separated into cocoa solids (which are used to make chocolate) and cocoa butter (which is used in a variety of products, including cosmetics).
- Mixing: The cocoa solids are mixed with sugar, milk (in the case of milk chocolate), and other ingredients to make chocolate.
- Conching: The chocolate mixture is then heated and stirred for several hours in a process called conching, which helps to develop its smooth texture and flavor.
- Tempering: Finally, the chocolate is tempered, which involves heating and cooling the chocolate to a specific temperature to create a shiny, smooth finish and to ensure that it has a stable shelf life.
After tempering, the chocolate can be molded into bars, used for baking, or consumed in other ways. The process of making chocolate can vary depending on the type of chocolate and the manufacturer, but these are the basic steps involved.
What happens if I eat too much chocolate ?
Eating too much chocolate, especially varieties that are high in sugar and fat, can have negative effects on your health. Here are some potential consequences :
- Weight gain: it is a high-calorie food, and consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and obesity.
- Tooth decay: it contains sugar, which can contribute to tooth decay and cavities.
- Acne: Some studies suggest that consuming large amounts can worsen acne in some people.
- Heartburn: it is high in caffeine and can be a trigger for heartburn in some people.
- Headaches: it contains a substance called tyramine, which can trigger headaches in some people who are sensitive to it.
- Diarrhea: Eating too much can also lead to digestive issues like diarrhea.
Overall, while it can have some potential health benefits when consumed in moderation, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and to choose high-quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids to reap the most potential benefits.
Want to learn more about nutrition ?
Here at Global Fitness Institute, we love health & fitness, & an important part of any fitness regimen is a healthy eating plan.
Today more so than ever, the importance of maintaining our health through careful food choices means that we can maintain some level of control over how resistant our body can be to many illnesses & in particular, chronic disease.
Healthy eating builds the foundations of a healthy immune system. It ensures a well-functioning digestive system, meaning that we can effectively absorb & utilize the nutrients we consume through food, in turn giving us healthy glowing skin, strong bones, healthy joints & the energy we require to go about our day.
Maintaining a healthy diet can also benefit our mood in numerous ways including reducing the inflammation that has been found to be responsible for mood disorders such as depression & anxiety.
Not only will you look better, but you will FEEL better & be the best & most vibrant version of yourself. And who wouldn’t want that.
So what are you waiting for ? Sing up to one of our Online Nutrition Courses today, and be on the road to health and wellness, not only for yourself but also you future clients.
Sources: Dark Chocolate Health Benefits