There is a popular belief that anything that tastes good is bad for the health. This includes fast foods, junk foods, desserts, rich and spicy foods. And chocolate unfortunately ranks quite high in this list.
There is rarely a person who does not love chocolate. Some of us are admitted chocoholics while others can be moderate chocolate consumers – but love it – we all do. Sadly, this wonder food has been banned from our diets even when we were children.
First there is the fear of cavities and as we grow older it becomes the bane of all weight watchers. But before we condemn and banish this beloved food from our lives, let’s take a look at whether it really makes us fat.
Too much of everything is bad for health. And sweets and desserts of all kinds tend to add more fat and affect our insulin levels abnormally which lead to weight gain and other health issues.
But deprivation is not really the answer, especially if you are a chocolate lover. Too much deprivation results in binge dieting where you tend to overeat after days of depriving yourself of your favorite foods. This is an abnormal routine for the body which has no idea of what you are going to do next – eat, not eat, over eat, and hence starts protecting itself by storing fat.
Chocolate by itself is not the villain. You can get excess calories from a whole lot of processed foods, junk and fast foods which we consume without paying any heed to consequences.
The need of the hour is to eat in moderation and keep in mind that we need to maintain a calorific balance every day. Every individual has a different constitution and need different levels of calories per day to function normally. On an average an adult body needs something between 1500-2000 calories per day. Calorific balance points to sticking to a diet or consuming foods that fall within this daily balance.
So you can go ahead and have chocolates if your chocolate intake balances with the rest of your diet that day. There are certain considerations however. Chocolates contain sugar and fat which are high in calories and need very little effort to be digested. This means that these calories can easily get stored in the body instead of being burned off for energy.
While chocolates are not weight friendly, some can be more harmful than the others. Milk chocolates are highest in calories, sugar saturated fats – which is bad news for both health and weight. Dark chocolates on the other hand have fewer calories and are quite high in antioxidants. It takes more cacao seeds to make a dark chocolate than a milk one and that itself makes it a healthier choice.
Cacao or Theobroma cacao, the plant that produces chocolate beans was considered the “food of the gods” by many ancient civilizations. They used it for medicinal purposes and also to increase their strength for battle.
In times gone by, chocolate has been used to treat patients suffering from tuberculosis and heart ailments. The antioxidants and the stearic acid combine to increase HDL or good cholesterol levels and prevent heart conditions. A cup of hot chocolate is supposed to keep one satiated and curb hunger pangs for a longer time.
Remember how Professor Lupin (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) would suggest taking a bite of chocolate after a dementor attack? He was simply pointing to the known mood elevating qualities of the chocolate. Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac and a mood elevator and chocoholics vow that they always feel happier after their chocolate intake.
Now that we know it is not the villain that we considered it to be, you can rest easy and enjoy a bit of chocolate from time to time. But ‘a bit’ is an important consideration. Chocolate does make one fat but having it in moderation will not cause any harm or undue weight gain.