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Can chocolate really be healthy?

Can chocolate really be healthy?

There are plenty of articles out there claiming such health benefits as lowering blood pressure, improving memory, protecting against cancer and promoting healing.

Chocolate comes from cocoa, which is a tree, which is a plant. So it counts as one of your 5 a day right?

But what about the negatives we historically associated with chocolate- amongst others weight gain and tooth decay.

We can ignore studies that were of short duration or funded by a major chocolate manufacturers and concentrate on those that establish a well defined cause-and-effect relationship. And the truth is there aren't that many of them. Many imply a link, for example to helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but the benefit is thought to be due not to chocolate as such but to flavanols—bioactive compounds that occur naturally in the cocoa bean.

Some laboratory research on animals suggested a cocoa-rich diet could offer protection against bowel cancer, but it's a big leap to state that cocoa will also protect people.

So we end up relying on the suggestion from many smaller studies which might show regular, moderate cocoa consumption will yield significant health benefits, particularly when it comes to dark chocolate. We have to weigh this against the fact that to make chocolate, cocoa is combined with sugar and fat.

So continuing on from our example above, by eating several squares of dark chocolate you'd get a healthy 750 mg of flavanols but you would be consuming more than 700 calories in the process.

Alison Hornby, a dietitian speaking for the NHS concludes "chocolate is an energy-dense food that could contribute to weight gain and a higher risk of disease. As an occasional treat, chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. Eaten too frequently, it is an unhealthy choice. "

Wait a minute though - isn't this a blog on a chocolate online store website? Logically shouldn't I be pushing the "chocolate is healthy" bandwagon? Well that's not really who I am. I want to be upfront about my ingredients, (in particular the impact on cocoa farmers and communities) my packaging and the way I run the business so I only feel comfortable pushing a healthy message if I can justify it. So what is my conclusion?

Well we all like a treat now and then and dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure so it can improve your mood and who knows you may just be getting some of the claimed health benefits. Certainly when looking at our overall diet I would say chocolate (make sure it is good quality) is a good alternative to other sweets like baked goods and sweets and if you watch the calories you aren't doing yourself any harm.

As long as it's not used as an excuse to over indulge then I think the phrase "Everything in moderation" is a good fit and I would conclude, consumed wisely, chocolate is not bad for a treat and may even be good for you. I, for one, will continue eating and enjoying chocolate with my family comfortable it can fit into a healthy lifestyle.

#chocolate #healthy #lifestyle