Is chocolate good for you?
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.
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!)
Such 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. However, 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.
At this point in time, although experts know that dark chocolate has some very positive health effects; there is not enough evidence to form the basis of a public health recommendation for daily intake.
“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.” – Katherine Hepburn
Chocolate is famous, the international rock star of sweets. Let’s face it, when Katherine Hepburn talks about you, you have made it.
The world’s largest manufacturer of chocolate, Barry Callebaut, has released a product called Acticoa that contains 80% of the flavonoids found in raw cocoa. This cocoa can be used in chocolate drinks, desserts, biscuits, confectionery fillings and snacks. Other companies including Hershey are jumping on the bandwagon and have released antioxidant milk chocolate and Whole Bean Chocolate® items onto the market.
We need to be mindful that chocolate is relatively high in calories and fat. However, if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet and leading a healthy lifestyle, it is important that you indulge in food that you love, including a little chocolate now and then.
Is Mars making chocolate better for you?
Mars recently released a new product by the name of Mars RED.
These figures reflect the energy, fat and carbohydrate found in 100 grams of each chocolate bar. The actual weight of the Mars RED is 37 grams and Mars Original is 53 grams.
When comparing the nutrient composition of food products, ensure that you are comparing the same quantities of each item eg. 100 grams. If you were looking at the average quantity per serving (37 grams vs. 53 grams) then Mars RED looks promising. It does contain 50% less fat per serve than a Mars Bar Original (1 bar), but don’t forget that Mars RED weighs significantly less.
When it comes to chocolate, choose what you love but control your portions.
If you are looking for a quick chocolate fix without the fat, download the Mini Chocolate Muffin recipe from my website.
Let me know what you want to know!
If you have a burning nutrition question or would like to know more about my nutrition programmes for your staff, school or team in 2009, I can be reached on my email at Julie@juliemeek.com.au.
Wishing you all a safe, happy and enjoyable Easter. Try to pace yourself and remember that chocolate has a long shelf life!
Until next time!