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Chocolate: my best friend or enemy?


The debate continues: is chocolate good or bad for me?

Like in all things, if chocolate (the high-quality kind) is used in moderation, it won’t send you into obesity or addiction, but just give you a soft satisfying buzz that makes holding back at other times worthwhile. Let’s discover the world of chocolate.

The dark side of too much chocolate

If your reaction to the above headline is -is there something like too much chocolate – you probably have a problem and would need to know the following facts.

Mood elevation: why we get chocoholics

In the book Quit without feeling s**t, the father of nutrition, Patrick Holford, says chocolate’s main ingredient is cocoa which is a source of theobromine (a stimulant also found in tea leaves and coffee). Chocolate also contains phenethylamine: an organic compound and the name of a class of chemicals with many members well known for psychoactive drug and stimulant effects.

In a study done by Dr David Benton – a psychologist at the University of Wales in Swansea – it was found that chocolate can significantly elevate mood.

In the study sad music was played to a group of students. Their moods turned negative. Then they were given either milk chocolate or carob (a long pod containing small beans and sweetish edible pulp; used as a chocolate substitute). They were unaware of who got real chocolate and who got the substitute. The group who got the chocolate experienced an elevation in their moods, but it had no effect on the students who ate the carob.

However, as the group who ate the real chocolate’s mood fell again, their cravings for chocolate shot up again – which gives us the first hint of the addictive nature of the delectable treat.

Even rats (who love alcohol) would occasionally skip their bad habit and replace it with chocolate – another potentially bad habit.

According to Holford ‘just one chocolate’ often becomes -just one more’.

Weight gain

If you are addicted to sweetened chocolate, your chances for gaining weight are really good, as with it comes all the problems of -going overboard with sugar, says Holford. Also, -it is often high in the wrong kinds of fats.

Poison from the soil

According to Holford you should always opt for the organic label. If you don’t, the cocoa beans could’ve been grown in countries where pesticide use is unregulated which could expose you to agents that could potentially cause cancer.

When is chocolate good?

Of all the stimulants, like coffee, tea, nicotine etc., chocolate is the least destructive to your health and it is rich in antioxidants, -provided that you eat the pure, dark, preferably organic stuff, not cheap bars full of fat and sugar. Eat chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids.

He does, however, attach a warning to this statement that all chocolate-lovers should take to heart: -But, as with any stimulant, if you eat it every day, or find yourself craving it, you’ve gone too far. Keep chocolate as a special treat, not a daily ritual.


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