Easter Egg or Easter Bunny?
It’s no eggaggeration to say Easter has become one of the world’s biggest chocolate festivals. Be it eggs or bunnies, white, milk or dark, large, or small, it’s a pretty good bet this type of chocolate therapy will tempt most of us into a little indulgence at some point this weekend. For the rest of the year consider that chocolate can be a completely honest pleasure, and if you choose wisely, it might even be considered a medical marvel.
Should chocolate always inspire guilt?
“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.””
This passage from Michael Pollan’s masterpiece, In Defence of Food, clearly raises many intriguing issues, but from the perspective of this article the key question remains what sort of chocolate cake are we talking about?
When it comes to chocolate, are we sometimes really talking sugar?
A chocolate flavoured sugar laden cake is a guilty indulgence. A cocoa rich confection may be more honest and worthy of celebration. The same goes for chocolate eggs and bunnies. White is barely chocolate, but when it comes to milk and dark, the higher the levels of cocoa, the better. Here are some reasons why:
- Cocoa contains flavanols, known for their antioxidant properties, that could improve blood flow to the brain
- it also contains some caffeine, aiding with alertness
- eating chocolate at least once a week may boost cognitive function
- eating chocolate may also lower the risk of stroke and heart disease
- consuming it when pregnant could aid foetal growth and development
- chocolate consumption, in moderation, may be beneficial as part of a healthy routine nutrition
According to The British Medical Journal daily consumption of chocolate containing at least 60% cocoa solids could reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes in people with metabolic syndrome, but the chocolate must be dark for the higher levels of flavonoids. According to ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research consuming about 40g/1.5oz of dark chocolate a day for two weeks can reduce levels of stress hormone in the bodies of highly stressed people, while research from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen shows dark chocolate to be more filling than milk chocolate, thus lessening our cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. Finally, according to the Chemistry Central Journal dark chocolate is a not only a rich source of antioxidants but it contains more polyphenols and flavonoids than fruit juice.
Cleary dark chocolate enjoyed in moderation may be a healthy treat – but on this special weekend just concentrate on celebrating with your friends and family and indulge in the chocolate you enjoy.
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