Chocolate: Healthy or unhealthy?

Chocolate is available in a variety of flavors. But whether white, dark or milk chocolate - one thing is common to all varieties: Chocolate is not exactly healthy because it contains a lot of fat and sugar and therefore also many calories. However, cocoa powder also contains certain substances that can have a positive effect on blood pressure and our heart health. This effect is especially great when snacking on dark chocolate, as it contains an extremely high amount of cocoa powder.

Chocolate: calories and ingredients

Chocolate is rich in fat and sugar and therefore anything but healthy. Depending on whether it is white, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, the ingredients may vary slightly. However, all varieties have in common that they contain relatively many calories. On average, it brings a bar of 500 to 550 calories. This already covers a quarter of the daily calorie requirements of an adult.

  • White chocolate is the unhealthiest of the three varieties. It has the highest calories on average and contains the most sugars: 100 grams contain about 63 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat.
  • Milk chocolate has similar calories, but with 57 grams it contains a little less sugar. Their fat content is similar to 29.5 grams.
  • Dark chocolate is the healthiest choice by comparison: at just under 500 calories, it contains around 50 calories less than the other two varieties. In addition, it contains 'only' 44 grams of sugar, but 36 grams of fat.

Does chocolate make you happy?

In chocolate are various substances that are attributed to a mood-enhancing effect. For example, cocoa powder contains theobromine, which, like caffeine, stimulates the circulation and is also mood-enhancing. Phenylethylamine, the cannabinoid anandamide and the serotonin precursor tryptophan also have a mood-enhancing effect.

However, the mood-enhancing effect that is said to sweet treat, but can not be fully explained by the ingredients mentioned. But the effect they have is too low. Psychic factors probably also make chocolate happy. Because when consumed, our reward system is activated and the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins are released.

Positive effect on health

Consuming chocolate - especially dark chocolate - may cause the level of heart-protecting antioxidants to rise sharply for some time. Because cocoa powder contains certain flavonoids (epicatechin), which have a positive effect on heart and blood pressure. They ensure that the vessels become more elastic and thus the blood pressure drops.

Anyone who regularly consumes small amounts of dark chocolate should, besides the blood pressure, also be able to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack. However, flavonoids are also found in other foods such as apples. The positive effect on the blood pressure is therefore no reason to feast unrestrained chocolate.

5 facts about chocolate - © istockphoto, JanPietruszka

Risk for obesity and secondary diseases

Although dark chocolate can have a positive effect on your health, do not forget that chocolate is a candy that contains a lot of fat, sugar and calories. Those who regularly consume larger amounts significantly increase their risk of being overweight and therefore also of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the likelihood of getting tooth decay increases.

Whether chocolate can promote the development of acne and pimples, has yet to be clarified. However, recent studies suggest that there is a link between the consumption of chocolate and the development of common acne (acne vulgaris).

Dark chocolate only in moderation

Although dark chocolate contains less sugar and fewer calories than other varieties, you should only consume the sweet in moderation. Because bitter chocolate contains a lot of cocoa powder, which - depending on the location of the cacao tree - can be contaminated with cadmium. This is particularly true of cocoa powder from South America, since cocoa plants often grow there on volcanic soil, which contains a lot of cadmium.

Cadmium is a chemical element that can cause damage to kidneys and bones in large quantities. The introduction of a limit value for cadmium in chocolate is repeatedly demanded, but the implementation is still pending.

In addition, one should keep his chocolate consumption due to the increased aluminum content in cocoa better limited. According to a 2008 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion, the average aluminum content of untreated foods is less than 5 mg / kg. However, foods such as cocoa - and accordingly chocolate products - may also have a higher concentration.

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