CHOCOLATE IS HEALTH’S WELL-WISHER. DREAM OR REALITY
Be it in any part of the world, chocolate is a weakness that everyone shares. Oh! the pleasure that fills your heart when you take a bite from that beautiful brown bar of happiness, and while the solace stays for a split second, the guilt that follows it is massive. Everything suddenly come crashing down, the worry of the calorie intake overpowers the sense of contentment and the palate that was so happy a moment ago is brutally ignored. Life seems so cruel at that point and you find yourself wondering that how is it that something as heavenly as chocolate is bad for your health.
But what if it was its bad reputation that states that, ‘chocolate is bad for your health’ was not a fact after all? What if there were health benefits of chocolate that our parents and dentists never shared with us? No, this is not some dream parallel world, this is a truth that is not so bitter. While it may be true that chocolates come with a fair share of calories, it is also true that it isgood for health, the key being the amount and the kind of chocolate you choose to intake. Keep these two in order and you are in for a delicious but healthy treat.
Chocolate is prepared from the roasted and ground seeds of cacao tree which are believed to contain antioxidant properties. Amongst the three, that is, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate, the first one is considered the healthiest. The higher the level of cocoa in the chocolate, the more advantageous it is for health, ergo dark chocolate. The fatty acid profile of the aforementioned is excellent. It contains mostly saturated and monosaturated fats with polyunsaturated fats in negligible quantities. Quality dark chocolate is a rich source of minerals like magnesium, copper, manganese, iron and fibre.
Being loaded with compounds that are biologically active compounds, its antioxidant property is amazing. Studies have shown that cocoa’s ability to fight free radicals exceeds any other fruits ever tasted. The antioxidant flavanol present in chocolate can stimulate the artery lining to produce nitric oxide which signal the arteries to relax, hence smoothing the blood flow leading to lowering blood pressure. It has also been found that chocolate, especially one with higher levels of cocoa can effectively decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called ‘bad cholesterol’ while simultaneously increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also called ‘good cholesterol’. The presence of flavanols in chocolate also improve blood flow and protect the skin against sun damage.
So, chocolate is not the villain after all. But it is not the protagonist either. Chocolate is packed with calories and that fact that it is so unbelievably delicious, increases the chances of over-eating. As mentioned before, the key to making chocolate a part of your health regime is its right section and monitored consumption.
Yes! there is a right and a wrong way to chocolate shopping. Just like there is a strategy involved behind selecting which oil to consume or which morning cereal is the best, there is a checklist to buy healthy chocolate. Here are a few pointers to help you the next time you are standing all confused and tempted in the chocolate section:
·Prefer dark chocolate over milk or white. Dark chocolate contains more levels of cocoa and thus the amount of flavanols present is also more. The one with over 60% of cocoa content is the best.
·Choose quality chocolate over quantity chocolate. One cube of good quality chocolate is better and more satiating that a whole bar of sweet brown cubes with less cocoa.
·Spend some time on the label. If your chocolate says, ‘processed with alkali’ on the label then place it back on the shelf because it will contain negligible amounts of flavanols. Also, avoid sugar laden chocolates.
The days of enjoying guilt-free chocolates are here and you can make the best of them. A little bit of cautiousness with an addition of a small amount of self-monitoring can yield a good time with a mouth-watering treat.
STAY FIT AND STAY HEALTHY.....