Today on our blog we invited Body Fusion to tell us all about the one food that most of us love! – Chocolate!!!!!!!
Ahhhhh chocolate. It is probably the most loved and also most overeaten foods amongst us. But, ‘Is chocolate really that bad for you?’. Firstly, no singular food is ever ‘bad’. Eating chocolate does not make you a bad person, but eating too much of it too often is not helpful to maintaining a healthy body. It is better to know the facts so you can stay in control and make the best choices!
Not All Chocolate is Created Equal
Dark chocolate is high in polyphenols; molecules that help the body fight cancer. Dark chocolate can contain between 70 – 99% cocoa solids and the higher the percentage, the less the sugar but also, the more intense the bitterness. When milk is added the antioxidant levels are lower because milk binds to the antioxidants meaning they aren’t as well absorbed by the body. This is one reason why milk and white chocolate are not the best sources of antioxidants and not the most healthy choices (in fact, white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa at all!).
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Studies have shown us that dark chocolate can slightly improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure in already healthy individuals and improve HDL ‘good’ cholesterol. A study in elite cyclists showed that those given 40g dark chocolate for 14 days were able to ride 17% longer than at the start of the experiment, compared to a modest 13% increase ridden by other cyclists given white chocolate. Why? It was hypothesised that the flavanols in dark chocolate were partly responsible for increasing levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the body that relaxed blood vessels and increased oxygen delivery to muscles.
Before we get too excited, these studies examined the role of a small amount of dark chocolate, between 30-50g per serving (approx. 3 thin squares of Lindt Dark varieties) and they were proven in already healthy people and athletes. This means the same results may not have been found in overweight/obese individuals or those with high blood pressure, cholesterol or insulin resistance.
Chocolate is still high in sugar and saturated fat
We need to remember that chocolate is very energy dense, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck in regards to kilojoules (or calories). One serving of chocolate weighs approx. 25g and contains about 600kJ (150 calories) that means four squares of Dairy Milk or 1 regular sized hollow Easter egg. We are only recommended to be eating 0-2 of these extra servings per day!
Our top chocolate eating advice
Choose dark chocolate over milk or white: Dark chocolate is more nutrient dense; it’s higher in antioxidants, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium. The darker, the better, aim for at least 70% cocoa.
Try cacao powder or cacao nibs: Replace choc chips with cacao nibs or cacao powder. Cacao powder has less energy, total fat, sugar and sodium than dark chocolate. It is even more bitter than dark chocolate, so you are less likely to overindulge. Check out our recipe for ‘Choc Almond Easter eggs’, using cacao powder on the Body Fusion blog!
ITC Note: You can source ingredients from stores in Lane Cove, such as Go Vita Lane CoveThe Source Bulk Foods Lane Cove. You can also visit Emporio Organico in Crows Nest for their beautiful range of chocolates which are preservative, additive, gluten and soy lecithin free – making it the perfect treat for the whole family.
TOP TIP: Freeze your chocolate or keep it out of eyesight, this reduces urges.
Eat all chocolate MINDFULLY: Sit down, serve chocolate on a plate and eat one piece at a time. Remember to taste all the flavours and slow down – don’t gobble! Stop when you have finished your allocated serving. Remember; you don’t have to go crazy on one day – chocolate will still be there tomorrow!
TOP TIP: Dark chocolate is usually harder to overeat than milk or white chocolate, stick to 2-3 squares (25g)
Ashleigh Brunner is an experienced Dietitian with a Bachelor of Science, Nutrition (Honours) and a Bachelor of Applied Science, Sports Science, University of Sydney. Her inspiration to become a Dietitian stems from her desire to help clients discover how a balanced diet can prevent and treat chronic disease, promote longevity and positively influence energy and concentration levels. Ashleigh has specialised in private practice consulting and she believes in individualised approaches for clients with various conditions like diabetes & high cholesterol, weight loss and food intolerance. You can read more about Ashleigh here.
Katrina Mills is an enthusiastic and driven dietitian/nutritionist who was inspired by food and nutrition from a young age. She believes that whole; natural foods should be one of the cornerstones of a balanced, healthy lifestyle that can be enjoyed by all – no matter what walk of life. You can find out more about Katrina here
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