For many years, chocs have been an expression of love and affection, spreading smiles and happiness everywhere.
Chocolate comes from cocoa beans -- the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree -- which, along with other plants like tea, are high in flavanols. These compounds have marked antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to be responsible for much of the health benefit ascribed to chocolate consumption. Keep in mind that overly processed chocolate -- most of the candy aisle -- often contains added sugar and saturated fatty acids, which offset cocoa's health benefits. So stick with dark, flavanol-rich varieties.
Winning a Nobel Prize may have just gotten easier. Findings published in The New England Journal of Medicine in October 2012 show that countries with more chocolate consumers produce significantly more Nobel laureates, possibly through enhanced cognition.
European Heart Journal found that daily dark chocolate consumption over a 4-week period improves endothelial and platelet function in patients with congestive heart failure.
Chocolate consumption has also been associated with a lower incidence of myocardial infarction and mortality from coronary heart disease.
The vascular benefits of cocoa are reflected in the growing body of evidence linking chocolate consumption with reduced blood pressure.
Increasing chocolate consumption by 50 g per week reduced cerebral infarction risk by 12%, hemorrhagic stroke risk by 27%, and total stroke risk by 14%.
Despite its lipidic reputation, chocolate appears to have a positive influence on cholesterol levels. Most milk and heavily processed chocolate contains added saturated fatty acids, which, along with added sugar, may negate cocoa's health benefits and are likely to raise cholesterol. But dark and unprocessed chocolate, with at least 60%-70% cocoa, is associated with decreased low-density lipoprotein levels and increased high-density lipoprotein levels. Cocoa does contain saturated fat, but it is primarily stearic acid, which is thought to be cholesterol neutral.
There are mixed results in Mood Disorders.
Frequent chocolate consumption is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI).
With apologies to the milk chocolate inclined, consumption of dark chocolate appears to provide significant and varied health benefits. However, all chocolate is caloric -- 2 oz of dark chocolate can contain over 440 calories -- so before you get carried away, moderate, calorie-conscious consumption should be emphasized.
Cavities: The refined sugar in processed chocolate can be detrimental to your teeth when eaten often without regular and proper teeth brushing. Sugar plays a harmful role in tooth decay by providing the bacteria in your mouth with energy. The bacteria begin to multiply faster, and plaque begins to grow in size and thickness on your teeth. Bacteria can also use sugar as a type of glue to cling to your teeth, making it difficult to get rid of with just a toothbrush.
Sugar can cause and aggravate gum disease.
Fruits provide the same health advantages of dark chocolate without the calories and saturated fats. They also contain natural sugar for those who crave sweets.
If you must have chocolate, buy it in the smallest serving size possible. This prevents you from eating up all of your calories for the day but satisfies your cravings too.
The Illusions of Diabetic Branded Produce:
"Diabetic foods tend to be 'treat' foods such as chocolates and biscuits. These foods do not contain sugar so some people may think that they're fine to eat in large quantities. However, diabetic foods offer no benefit to people with diabetes. They are expensive, contain just as much fat and calories as the ordinary versions, can have a laxative effect and will still affect blood glucose levels."
Diabetes UK joined forces with the Food Standards Agency in an attempt to stop this false advertising - "People with diabetes should eat a normal healthy balanced diet, the same as everybody else."