Chocolate – Good or Bad?

chocolateI’ve got to admit that chocolate is one of my favourite treats but I often feel a little guilty after I’ve indulged in a piece (or bar!). And it’s hardly surprising as chocolate is most commonly associated with its fat content. However I recently heard a rumour that eating chocolate can actually have some health benefits too. Looking for a positive reason to eat chocolate without the guilt, I thought I’d do a little research on the topic and share it with you guys.

So the first positive benefit of chocolate is that it can help improve your mood. Well I must admit that this didn’t come as much of a surprise as when I’m having an ‘off’ day, chocolate often perks me up too. Apparently this is due to a chemical reaction which occurs in your body after eating chocolate. The chocolate is loaded with sugar and once eaten, this triggers a release of the chemical, serotonin, in your body – it’s this chemical that improves your mood.

If you’re a fan of dark chocolate like me, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is packed full of something called flavonoids which are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants work in a number of ways including helping to lower your blood pressure and help to protect you against heart disease. There’s even some evidence to suggest that by eating chocolate, you are actually having a positive effect on the cardiovascular system too. Now that’s the sort of thing I like to hear!

But what about calories? Well it is true that chocolate contains a lot of calories so perhaps it’s not the healthiest food for those who are calorie counting. And yes chocolate also contains a lot of fat but you’ll be pleased to hear that some of this fat is in the form of stearic acid which is actually converted by your liver into a healthier type of fat known as monounsaturated fat. This is the type of fat that our body starts to bur in times of need and also our body’s natural way of insulating us from the cold.

Having learnt all these interesting facts about chocolate, I might focus on the feel-good factor and heart-related benefits of it instead of the calorie count and I might not beat myself up so much next time I decide to have a bar after a hard day at work.