You’ve resisted that scrumptious chocolate bar sitting in your refrigerator for several days now. You know you want it. But why is chocolate bad for you?
When you finally give in to your temptations, rip open the package, and let that delicious treat melt in your mouth, you feel guilty. But this is a different kind of guilt; it seems to add to the enjoyment of the chocolate. Chocolate tastes best when you know you should not be consuming it.
There are several reasons why chocolate is bad for you. It can lead to weight gain, diabetes, stomach problems, and even mental disorders like insomnia and depression. But all these effects show up when chocolate is consumed in uncontrolled amounts.
But if chocolate is all that bad, why are people still consuming it, and you hardly hear of any permanent chocolate-related diseases?
Many people believe that certain chocolates are bad for you, especially if eaten out of moderation. Nutritionists claim that anything can be harmful if it is consumed excessively. Similarly, chocolate can have numerous adverse effects if it is eaten uncontrolled. But there are also many health benefits that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, offers. These include improved brain function, athletic performance, and better heart health.
Why Is Chocolate Bad For You?
Ever since it came into being, chocolate has been loved by people of all ages around the globe. People present it to their loved ones, love accepting it as a gift, and look for excuses to consume it in one way or another.
We have to admit that chocolate is not all that bad for you. Dark chocolate is proven to have several benefits. It is very nutritious, has antioxidants, can improve cognitive functions, and helps your body fight harmful free radicals. However, it is essential to consume this treat in moderation, and increased quantities can lead to harmful effects.
But when it comes to regular chocolate, which contains sugar, cream, and butter, it can quickly ruin your diet. This is not to say that you should cut it off completely. There is no harm in consuming a small bar for stress relief occasionally. When the proportions go out of control, things take a turn for the worse.
Consuming chocolates in large amounts can affect the nervous system, stomach, and heart. Let us look at some adverse effects of chocolate.
Empty Calories and Diabetes Risk
A chocolate bar is around 48% sugar, 32% fat, and 20% other minerals and carbohydrates. This means that for every 2-ounce chocolate bar, you are getting nearly an ounce of sugar. The chocolate bar also has very little, next to none, nutritional value. Consuming chocolate in excess amounts will spike your blood sugar and may lead to diabetes.
Sugar can also be held responsible for weight gain. Anyone trying to drop a couple of pounds should steer clear of processed chocolates. Furthermore, high amounts of sugar can lead to tooth decay and cavities in adults and children.
Chocolate, by nature, is acidic. When taken in excess quantities, any acidic food will increase the amount of acid in your stomach. The esophageal sphincter relaxes with the increased acidity, allowing acid to move up from the stomach towards your throat. This will often lead to heartburn. If you have acidity or heartburn issues, chocolate can further aggravate the problem.
Anxiety and Palpitations
Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a drug that activates the nervous system. It can give you an energy boost and even improve your mood. But take in too much of it, and things take a turn for the worse. Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause increased pulse rate and palpitations.
Too much caffeine will also trigger insomnia and can lead to restlessness. Due to this restlessness and insomnia, you become more prone to anxiety and depression.
It is essential to note that chocolate directly does not negatively impact your mental health. Since excessive caffeine can lead to insomnia and restlessness, these two traits can cause depression and anxiety if not addressed at the right time.
According to a study, it was found that women who ate excessive amounts of chocolates, which can be in the form of cocoa or chocolate bars, had lower bone density. The study monitored women for five years.
The researchers speculated that the lower bone density could result from oxalic acid present in cocoa. Oxalic acid is known to inhibit the absorption of calcium. Calcium is a necessary element for bone health, and limiting its absorption can have direct consequences on bone health.
Some people complain of mild or severe headaches after they consume chocolate. Researchers believe that this can be due to the histamine, tyramine, and phenylalanine present in cocoa, the key chocolate ingredient.
Studies show that chocolate contains cadmium, a harmful metal, and can lead to kidney disorders. There is a limit to the amount of cadmium that you can safely consume. Chocolate contains small amounts, but your kidneys can have trouble removing this metal from your body if you consume too much. This can result in kidney diseases and other complications.
Why Is Chocolate (Not So) Bad For You?
With the adverse effects of chocolate we have just discussed, you may be tempted to steer clear of the chocolate section during your next trip to the grocery store. However, notice how all the adverse effects come with excess consumption, and you don’t have to worry too much if you are consuming chocolate in moderation.
Improves Brain Function
According to a study conducted by Harvard, chocolate helps n keep your brain healthy. It improves blood flow to parts of the brain, supplying those areas with extra nutrients and oxygen. The study states that consuming chocolate daily can help slow down the memory decline among older people.
Improves Heart Health
Contrary to the popular belief that chocolate can cause cardiovascular problems, a study reveals that chocolate consumption actually lowers the risk of heart diseases by 33%. During their study, the researchers concluded that consuming chocolate may be better for your heart than not consuming it.
This study, however, is still in progress and requires more experimental evidence. But we think that moderation is the key here again.
Reduces Bad Cholesterol
It sounds too good to be true, but a delicious treat of dark chocolate can lower the bad cholesterol in your system. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of cocoa as compared to other ingredients. The flavonoids in cocoa may be responsible for altering the level of cholesterol in your blood.
In addition to reducing Low-Density Lipoproteins, which is the bad cholesterol, cocoa-rich chocolate is also known to increase High-Density Lipoproteins, which is the good cholesterol.
Reduces Chances of Stroke
Research conducted in Canada, which involved around 45,000 people, found that those who ate a single serving of chocolate per day were less likely to suffer a stroke. The study also revealed that those who were not consuming two ounces of chocolate per week were more likely to suffer a stroke.
According to this research, around 3 ounces of chocolate per day can improve heart health and lower the chances of a stroke.
Improve Athletic Performance
Dark chocolate is known to maintain the levels of oxygen in the blood. It reduces the amount of oxygen used by the body during strenuous exercise, allowing the athlete to carry on for longer before feeling fatigued.
Researchers conducted an experiment on some cyclists who participated in time trials. They found that riders who consumed dark chocolate used less oxygen and could cover longer distances during the two minutes set for all riders.
The researchers speculate that dark chocolate contains epicatechins, which boost the nitric oxide in the body, causing the body to require less oxygen. A similar effect was seen in athletes who consumed beetroot juice before their sports adventures.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore