Most people have a liking towards chocolate and for those of you who know me, I love my chocolate. Its Easter weekend and there are chocolate eggs everywhere. However, when it comes to chocolate, I often hear people say chocolate isn’t good for you, or actually, the most common one I hear is that “chocolate causes me to break out.” In most cases, chocolate itself does not cause acne. In fact, chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants. And antioxidants, if anything, protect your skin from breaking out. However, eating cheap chocolate, like Hershey’s in America, may cause you to develop acne because of all the added artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Other than being high in antioxidants, chocolate prevents blood clots, does not increase cholesterol levels, protects the lining of the arteries, can reduce inflammation, and helps to regulate blood flow and blood pressure. Chocolate is high in fat and sugar, but as long as your total fat and caloric intake is balanced, chocolate will not affect your cholesterol levels. In fact, one study concluded that dark chocolate can help to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol). And there is another study that concludes that chocolate can be just as effective as an aspirin. “The effect of a flavonoid-rich cocoa drink containing 25 grams (a little less than an ounce) of semisweet chocolate compared to an 81 milligram dose of aspirin showed that the two were similar in their effects on preventing platelets from clumping together or clotting. However, aspirin’s effects are longer-lasting than those produced by chocolate flavonoids, so unlike aspirin, which can be taken once daily, a dose of flavonoid-rich ch0colate would need to be consumed every six to eight hours” (The Enclycopedia of Healing Foods, 2005). Even though chocolate’s effects aren’t as long lasting as aspirin, at least chocolate is natural and has little to no side effects when consumed. Chocolate does contain caffeine, so many people have to be careful there, but also, there are many people out there who are also allergic to it.
So how do you know which chocolates are the best to eat to get a part of your daily antioxidants? Well, semi-sweet dark chocolate is best and is also contains the most antioxidants than any other form of chocolate because there are fewer added ingredients, such as milk and sugar. Dark chocolate contains about 170 milligrams of flavonoids. Milk chocolate is also high up there in terms of antioxidants, but not as high as dark chocolate because it contains 70 milligrams of flavonoids. Hot chocolate is also great to have, but it only contains half of the flavonoids of milk chocolate, brings it downs to 35 milligrams because the cocoa powder is diluted down with milk and/or water and then it has added sugar.
When buying chocolate at the store, read the ingredients list. If cocoa (or cocoa powder or cocoa butter) is the first ingredient on the list, then you are buying a healthier version of chocolate. However, cocoa should at least be the second ingredient on the list. If its third or lower on the list, then if you are eating chocolate for promoting your own health, then I would find a new brand. And as I always say, the shorter the list of ingredients, the better it is for you. And, if you can’t identify every ingredient on that list, then most likely, it is filled with preservatives. As always, chocolate is healthy for you as long as you consume it in moderation. Too much of anything is considered to be unhealthy.
One more thing, chocolates with nuts are an excellent combination because nuts are very good for you. However, the benefits of eating nuts is a topic for another time. For now, enjoy your chocolate because it is healthier for you than you may think.
Happy Easter and be safe!