As we enter Easter weekend, chocolate temptation is never higher!!! Kids chocolate all over the place, shops full of tempting stuff... well let me give you some good news
Recent interest in the health benefits of chocolate was sparked by studies on the cocoa-drinking people of Central America.
Researchers observed that the Kuna Indians of Panama, who drank cocoa as their main beverage, had very low blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
Chocolate is obviously a processed and sweetened product that comes from cocoa but cocoa itself is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains the antioxidants catechins and procyanidins.
Are the health claims about chocolate supported by evidence?
In a small study from 2009, 30 healthy people who were given 40g of dark chocolate a day for 14 days experienced a reduction in stress hormones. (however, the study was funded by a major chocolate manufacturer - Hmmm). It had several limitations, including its short study period, and does not provide any evidence that chocolate has any benefits or effects on stress.
The main ingredient of chocolate - cocoa, appears to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects (remember -we love antioxidants!!) that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
What do I think?
I have one square of dark chocolate every day for the antioxidant properties, because I like it and because I can torch it in 5 minutes of cycling
Balance is the key...if you're taking additional calories in, expend them. It's one weekend.
Enjoy your Easter break