Just when you thought that you had your nutrition game sorted and in some sort of routine, along comes the chocolate fest of Easter. The risk of indulging a little too much and gaining a few pounds is always a possibility, especially if you’re less active during the long weeken. Fear not! Help is at hand – and were going to turn things on its head and say you can have your chocolate egg.
Chocolate gives many of us pleasure mainly because it has physiological effects that make it moreish – if not downright addictive. Interestingly, some research shows that actually certain types of chocolate are particularly good for us. After all, one of the ingredients of chocolate is cocoa which is a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc and plant-based compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that have multiple health benefits including boosting immunity, helping control our blood sugar levels and keeping heart disease at bay.
However, of course chocolate comes with other ingredients such as sugar and saturated fat which are two nutrients we need to make sure we limit our intake of. This in turn means that when it comes down to chocolate the healthy kind is the dark variety.
Dark chocolate ( > 70% cocoa solids) has many nutritional benefits. As previously mentioned not only does it have important minerals like magnesium and antioxidants, however recent studies show that the stearic acid in dark chocolate can help slow digestion which increases the feeling of fullness. The bitterness is also thought to help diminish cravings for sweet things. In fact, one study showed that the simple act of smelling dark chocolate may help curb the sugar cravings! More research is needed to examine the full effects of dark chocolate of feelings of fullness and sugar cravings however for now we know that dark chocolate ( > 70% cocoa solids) is something to add to your shopping list.
References – available on request.