Chocolate lovers will be happy to know that there is increasing evidence from clinical and experimental studies showing favourable health effects of chocolate. These benefits may include: an increase in antioxidant activity, and reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, LDL cholesterol, and an overall reduction in cardiovascular risk. (Hooray!)
Cocoa and chocolate products are made from cacao (Theobroma cacao) beans and it has become evident that they are a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids.
Studies have shown that cocoa and chocolate contain a high quality and quantity of antioxidant flavonoids, exceeding other well known sources such as black and green tea, and red wine. But before you grab your favourite candy bar, note that this is only primarily true of dark chocolate, which contains 2-3 times as many cocoa flavonoids as milk chocolate. Keep in mind that the flavonoid content of dark chocolate is dependent on the percentage of cocoa used and the manufacturing process, which can destroy flavonoids. When purchasing chocolate, make sure you buy dark chocolate where the first listed ingredient is cocoa mass not sugar and where there is 70 percent cocoa solids or higher.
The Heart Foundation does not recommend dark chocolate for prevention of heart conditions but a study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that high levels of chocolate consumption may be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. The researchers analysed the results of seven studies involving over 100,000 participants with and without existing heart disease and compared high and low levels of chocolate consumption. The type of chocolate was not known.
Good things aside, lets not forget that chocolate is a rich concentrated food that is high in calories and fat. The good news is, although the type of fat is mostly saturated, most of this saturated fat is in the form of stearic acid, which has little effect on blood cholesterol. If you are eating a healthy, balanced diet and leading a healthy lifestyle, small amounts of chocolate such as a 20g piece or 4 small squares are quite acceptable to indulge in.
Fuel Watch – Muffins
Sweet (and sometimes savoury) muffins can be found in any café and are a very popular snack for morning and afternoon tea. These muffins are quite often bigger than Ben Hur and usually the calorie equivalent of a meal. Take a look at the statistics below and you will see that the amount of energy (calories), fat and sugar in the muffin far exceeds that of the Hot Cross Bun.
Hot Cross Buns are a source of carbohydrate though, and equal to 2 slices of bread. Because of this they are very useful for recovery following exercise or a training session and a good breakfast option with a glass of milk.
Don’t forget to tune in to 882-6PR radio every alternate Wednesday at 10am for a chat with Paul Murray and myself on the Morning program. We discuss everything nutrition and performance and answer callers questions. The next broadcast is on Wednesday 27th March 2013.
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