Is chocolate good for you? The pros and cons
[pic]A little of what you fancy does you good - especially if it’s chocolate. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging, you can now feel virtuous, as chocolate is officially beneficial for health. And that’s just as well, as we Brits consume over 80 million chocolate eggs each Easter which works out at a staggering 9kg per person.
Chocolate dates back to the time of the Aztecs when cocoa beans were so prized that they were used as currency during the reign of Montezuma. The Aztecs consumed chocolate in the form of a sweetened drink, which was believed to increase wisdom, boost energy levels and have a powerful aphrodisiac action. Modern forms of chocolate combine cocoa paste with cocoa butter, sugar and cream or milk, with a variety of additional flavourings such as vanilla, nuts and liqueurs that may improve the flavour, but may reduce its health value. We take a look at some of the pros and cons of eating chocolate this Easter...
The reason chocolate gets the ‘thumbs up’ from researchers is because it contains large quantities of antioxidants - chemicals that help to neutralise some of the harmful chemical reactions occurring as part of our metabolism and during exposure to pollutants. In essence, antioxidants stop us going rusty inside. Scientists have found that just 40g of chocolate contains more than 300mg of polyphenols - the same type of antioxidants that give red wine its heart-protecting reputation. And if you like your chocolate dark, you will obtain twice as many polyphenols, similar amounts, in fact, as are found in a cup of green tea. What’s more, the polyphenols present in chocolate are of the super-protective variety known as procyanidin flavonoids. While some of these flavonoids contain just one unit and are classed as monomers, the most protective are those containing two, three or more units, known as oligomers. Yes, you’ve guessed it, chocolate is...
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