It’s that time of year when the shops are simply full of chocolate. And with recent press coverage claiming it is good for us can we induldge guilt-free or not?
Here the British Dietitic Association gives us the run-down on the nation’s favourite treat…
Five most common myths linked to chocolate
Dark chocolate contains less calories than milk chocolate.
“False! Both dark and milk chocolate contain roughly the same amount of calories per 100g, which is about 550kcals.
Chocolate gives you acne.
“False! There is no evidence to support this claim. Although some people feel that they are more sensitive to chocolate and this is reflected in their skin health so they prefer to avoid it.
Migraines are caused by chocolate.
“False! Chocolate does contain small amounts of tyramine and phenylethylamine, amino acids from the protein in chocolate, both of which can trigger a migraine. However there is no evidence to suggest that chocolate alone can cause them but perhaps as part of a number of triggers?
Chocolate makes you fat.
“True and False! It all depends on quantity consumed. If you were to eat a large chocolate bar every day on top of your usual daily intake then this could contribute to too many calories and therefore lead to some weight gain. However as part of a healthy and balanced diet and if you exercise within government recommendations for good health (30 mins moderate intensity 5 days per week), chocolate as a treat will not make you fat!
You can’t eat chocolate if you have diabetes.
“False! The myth behind avoiding chocolate if you have diabetes is well out of date. Yes it contains carbohydrates which when broken down into glucose it will raise your blood glucose levels. However if you have good control of your blood glucose and are not consuming too many carbohydrates in one sitting – there is no reason why you can’t have chocolate as a treat on occasion just like those who don’t have diabetes.”
Why chocolate could be good for us…
Cocoa beans have been considered to have health benefits from as long ago as the Aztecs where they used the beans in many of their medicinal concoctions, to treat a number of common ailments. In more recent years, analysis of the beans has shown that the cocoa liqueur contained in the bean is rich in polyphenols and thought to have antioxidant effects within the body. The type of polyphenols in the beans are known as flavanoids, and are similar to those found in green tea leaves and red wine. It is the presence of such chemical components that word has been spread, that no longer is chocolate so bad for you after all, but may actually be good for your health! And there is some evidence to support such claims that the antioxidant action may help to protect our hearts, but only as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
So should we eat more chocolate?
It is’t quite that simple unfortunately. The BDA nutritionists say: “The fat and total calorie content in all chocolate – plain, milk or white chocolate – is high, hence we don’t suggest you start eating it every day. But there is no reason why you can’t have a few pieces as a treat on occasion.”