If you are anything like me, as well as 99% of the population, you love to indulge in chocolate maybe a little too often. In fact, it is estimated that the UK consume 660,900 tonnes of chocolate per year (1), which equates to eleven kilos per person putting us at the top of the chocoholic’s league! Do not fret, even though I am a Nutritionist I am not here to tell you that you can’t eat chocolate. I am here to give you a little insight into the health claims associated with the candy, so you can make informed choices when it comes to buying your Easter goodies!
Several studies have found health benefits linked with the antioxidants known as flavanols found in dark chocolate. A diet rich in antioxidants and plant foods has shown an overwhelming amount of positive associations, with a reduced risk of diseases as well as lowered blood pressure and improved blood cholesterol.
Sounds too good to be true, right? These facts, along with the hundreds of media reports on these so-called superfoods, lead many to believe that dark chocolate is in fact ‘healthy’, and therefore justifies eating dark chocolate in higher quantities and frequencies.
Unfortunately, such studies do in fact exaggerate their findings, omit key details and use much higher levels of flavanols than available in commercially available chocolates rendering the stated recommendations useless. For example, a study (2) looking at the effect of cocoa on blood pressure used a dosage of 670mg of flavanols, which is the equivalent to consuming twelve 100g bars of dark chocolate, or fifty bars of milk chocolate per day. Not exactly the healthy diet you were after!
As well as this, many studies on nutrition receive industry funding which can lead to publishing the desirable results in ways to benefit the food companies, making the news headlines swayed and inaccurate.
With Easter upon us, I want to help you make the smart and healthy choices when it comes to picking out your Easter eggs! So, what are my take home messages?
Whilst the health benefits of chocolate aren’t what they’re all cracked up to be, choosing a darker variety will provide you with more minerals and antioxidants when compared to the milk or white varieties, as well as cutting out the extensive processing, added sugar and fat content that the latter two contain.
Did you have an Easter choc full of fun? Let us know below and share your images with us across social media: #cotswoldallure