Chocolate: To eat or not to eat

by Carmen Visser

Image by Sigmund on Unsplash

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” Forrest Gump.

Chocolate: a tasty and tempting treat. Many of the world’s population, myself included, thoroughly enjoy chocolate as a sweet snack. The sugary flavour and creamy texture leave our tongues and tastebuds tingling.

In addition to being a popular snack on its own, chocolate has also been incorporated into many other aspects of the culinary world. It is a well-known flavour of dishes and beverages such as a chocolate milkshake, chocolate ice-cream and a chocolate cake.

Moreover, chocolate has also become a huge part of our daily lives and social interactions. Over time we have adopted the sugary delight into our social constructs. For example, a slab of lavishly expensive chocolate is considered a wonderful birthday or festive gift. Not to mention the heart-shaped chocolate treats that are found in every grocery store on Valentine’s Day.

While cocoa itself has been proven to have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and improving cognitive performance, when it is mixed with milk, sugar and other ingredients, these benefits seem to fade away. So, what are the pros and cons of chocolate?

There are a few benefits of chocolate that some might find obvious. This includes improving one’s mood. You might have noticed that when you are feeling frustrated or down, eating chocolate can bring your smile back. One could say that chocolate has happy-provoking properties.

Additionally, the decadent treat is also a reliable way to lower stress levels and is known to provide an energy boost due to its high levels of sugar and caffeine. Moving onto the health benefits of chocolate, one of the most important ones is chocolate’s nutritious value.

Chocolate is filled with trace minerals that strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s overall health. Furthermore, chocolate is also considered a healthier sweet snack than other candies, such as gummy bears. Although milk chocolate does not have a long line of health benefits, dark chocolate does!

“Chocolate is comfort without words.” – Ursula Kohaupt

Image by David Greenwood-Haigh on Unsplash

Dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa) is considered to be extremely nutritious as it is loaded with minerals. In addition to this, the snack has also been proven to lower blood pressure and balance cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate balances cholesterol levels by increasing low levels and decreasing high levels. By lowering blood pressure and balancing cholesterol levels, dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease.

Furthermore, the bitter, dark chocolate contains bioactive compounds that protect skin from the harmful sun. Collagen ensures that the skin looks smooth and young while calcium ensures that skin is restored. Both of these nutrients are found in dark chocolate.

Image by Jessica Loaiza on Unsplash

While the benefits of chocolate might encourage you to devour an entire slab, consider these chocolate cons.

Chocolate has high levels of both sugar and saturated fat. These contribute to chocolate being rich in calories, which can be unhealthy for your body if you consume large amounts. Furthermore, the high levels of sugar found in the cocoa-based treat can also lead to teeth problems such as decay and cavities.

Chocolate also often contains caffeine which can lead to sleeping problems. However, the amount of caffeine found in chocolate is significantly lower than the amount in a cup of tea or coffee.

In addition, many will warn you against becoming addicted to chocolate. While the list of chocolate cons is rather small and slight, consuming excessive amounts of chocolate can be extremely damaging to your health.

So, my advice for fellow chocoholics? Live your life to its fullest extent with that delicious delicacy right by your side. Although you should limit the amount of chocolate you eat, do not feel guilty for enjoying it.

“Chocolate is a gift of love to yourself.” – Sonja Blumenthal

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