With the current debate around ultra-processed food and the possible dangers, we are reviewing this article we produced on the possible benefits of chocolate. We often hear about the negative effects chocolate can have on our bodies, but we don’t often hear about the health benefits that chocolate has. Of course, chocolate can be bad for you if you eat it in large amounts, but chocolate in moderation can have its benefits.
Some of the key reasons chocolate can be bad for you are:
- High sugar content
- Additives and emulsifiers
- High-calorie density
- Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure: ‘’Chocolate may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.” This is because it reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol.
- Improve blood flow to the brain: ‘’Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.’’ This is because chocolate can reduce or prevent damage to the nerve pathways in the brain, and studies are being done to see the effects of this in reducing diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke: Studies have shown that eating chocolate can reduce the risks of developing heart disease and stroke.
- Dark chocolate is nutritious, containing high amounts of fibre, iron and magnesium while containing the least sugar of any other chocolate. Dark chocolate is a good source of anti-oxidants.
So which is better- light or dark chocolate?
Light or milk chocolate producers claim their chocolate is healthier because it contains more milk, which means more calcium. Dark chocolate producers claim that their chocolate has higher iron content and levels of antioxidants. The nutrients in a chocolate bar vary depending on the manufacturer, so it is always best to check the nutritional information before purchasing. Usually, organic dark chocolate has the benefits of less sugar and more cocoa, which means there should be more antioxidants.
What about the ethical consumption of chocolate?
Ethical chocolate consumption involves making conscious choices that consider cocoa production’s social and environmental impacts. Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, is primarily grown in regions near the equator, often by small-scale farmers facing challenges such as low wages, poor working conditions, and environmental degradation. Ethical Chocolate seeks to address these issues by promoting fair trade practices, sustainable farming methods, and transparency in the supply chain.
One aspect of ethical chocolate consumption is supporting fair trade certifications. Fair trade ensures that farmers receive fair compensation for their work, helping to alleviate poverty in cocoa-producing communities. By choosing chocolate with fair trade labels, consumers contribute to a system prioritising ethical labour practices. Additionally, ethical chocolate often emphasizes sustainable farming practices that minimize environmental impact. This includes promoting agroforestry, which integrates cocoa cultivation with native vegetation to preserve biodiversity and reduce deforestation.
Health-conscious consumers are increasingly drawn to ethical chocolate for its positive social and environmental aspects and potential health benefits. Dark chocolate, in particular, contains antioxidants and may have cardiovascular benefits when consumed in moderation. By aligning ethical considerations with personal health goals, individuals can enjoy chocolate as a treat, contributing to a more sustainable and equitable cocoa industry.
Enjoy in Moderation
As you can see, there are both risks and benefits, both physiologically and societal, in chocolate consumption. Still, we believe that unless you are on a specific diet restricting calories or sugar, you should enjoy chocolate in moderation and consume it with some ethics in mind. Moderation is key!
First Published: 11t April 2019
Latest Update: 28th September 2023