Feeling great: Chocolate can be good for you!

editorial image

Chocoholics, rejoice! After Easter leaves us feeling like we’ve entered a food coma for 72 hours, interrupted by a family roast and maybe a little spot of self-loathing as we finish our seventh Creme egg, the good news is, chocolate CAN actually be good for you, and has plenty of health benefits too – so you don’t have to beat yourself up.

When it comes to your health, chocolate can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand it’s packed with antioxidants, but then on the other, many chocolate bars contain a substantial amount of sugar.

And because of that I decided to let you in on the good side of chocolate that justifies our chocolate consumption, and outline the things you need to look out for and be aware of too.

So, where do the health benefits of chocolate come from? They come from cacao. And if you want to get specific, they come from flavonoids – they’re the things that are responsible for chocolate’s unique taste that everyone knows, and they also protect your body from a number of diseases, including asthma and diabetes.

Thanks to flavonoids, Scientists have linked cacao consumption to lots of healthy benefits - just make sure you choose the dark type!

First off, if you want to live a long and healthy life you’ve got to look after your ticker, and the good news is a daily dose of dark chocolate could be doing wonders to help protect your heart. Numerous studies have also shown it helps to lower blood pressure and improve blood pressure too.

It can also slow memory loss – as we get older, we can get a bit more forgetful. But an exciting study has found that cacao could put the breaks on age-related memory loss.

Here’s a good one, so you know when you’ve had a ‘bad day’, or you’re feeling a little stressed out and all you want to do is reach for a chocolate bar?

Well, turning to chocolate during these times of need may not be so bad after all. Dark chocolate helps level-out stress (so you may want to keep a small stash of it in your desk drawer or handbag). I always knew that having chocolate was an instant way to cheer our selves up.

Believe it or not, (even though this goes against almost everything we have ever been told about dieting and eating healthily) it turns out chocolate can actually be used as a way to lose weight.

Eating chocolate promotes weight loss, but here’s the thing, it requires moderation. By not partaking in deprivation diets that cut out treats like chocolate, we are less likely to fall off the wagon and over-eat later in the day.

So now you know it’s absolutely ok to enjoy it, let’s talk about the bittersweet truth, because even though it’s great! Not all chocolate is created equal.

Extensive processing, as well as all the added sugar can strip cacao of its nutritional goodness. So before you run out to stock your kitchen up with chocolate, make sure you’re aware you getting your hands on the good stuff.

When it comes down to it, you should opt for dark over milk or white (if you have the choice). Look out for chocolate with at least 70% cacao – the higher, the better.

Cacao nibs are also on the healthier side of the chocolate spectrum. And at the end of the day, in spite of all the healthy benefits listed above, chocolate is to be enjoyed in moderation, a few squares away could keep the Doctor away.