We all love chocolate and we all have our favourite chocolate bars that we grab for. We all notice when a chocolate bar changes it shape or size – I am sure Curly Wurlys used to be bigger or, is it that I am now grown up, the bars look smaller in my hand?
With chocolate it is a total eating experience, from smell, taste and texture whilst eating to the ‘feel good’ we get after eating, chocolate has it all. From an early age we have established which chocolate bar is the favourite, chocolate makers have created the perfect mouth feel when eating chocolate from the first bite, the snap of the outer coating and the melt on the tongue to how it slides down the throat, we just can’t get enough and that is just the eating.
Eat too much chocolate and one can feel a bit sick and a bit fat, however if we take the ‘everything in moderation’ rule, eating chocolate it has some really good and surprising health benefits too!
What chocolate is best and why does it excite the senses so much?
Starting with the smell, sniffing chocolate is good!! It can actually calm your nerves. The smell of chocolate increases the Theta brain waves and this in turn helps in relaxation. Wow!! So next time you’re feeling a little stressed, reach for your favourite chocolate bar and savour the scent of the chocolate before tucking in.
Eating chocolate improves your mood, especially under stressful situations and can actually help reduce mental fatigue, so when studying for your exams a little nibble can go a long way. Chocolate also encourages the brain to release serotonin – your feel good endorphin. It contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that we create when we fall in love and it is this that triggers the endorphin release.
White chocolate isn’t chocolate! What!! I hear you white chocolate lovers cry. To be called chocolate it needs to contain cocoa, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor or cocoa something. Unfortunately most white chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa anything, so technically white chocolate can’t be called chocolate. However, that fact won’t stop me enjoying it though.
Chocolate is only good for humans, so don’t be tempted to give it to your furry friends as it could lead to a very unhappy pet and in some cases be fatal! Having said that us humans don’t want to eat too much either!
Chocolate is good for your teeth. Yes really! The antioxidants in dark chocolate prevents the oral streptococci bacteria in the mouth turning into damaging acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, thus preventing tooth decay and gum disease. However, the sugar that is also found in most chocolate bars is still not good for your teeth, so you’ll need to keep on brushing your teeth for now!
Eating chocolate can actually increase insulin sensitivity which in turn can reduce diabetes, however eating sweetened chocolate will have the reverse effect due to the sugar content!
Chocolate can also reduce the likelihood of heart attack and strokes. How?? Well, chocolate contains flavonoids which are antioxidants, these help prevent strokes. And in chocolate eaters the blood platelets can clump slower reducing clots and thus reducing the risk of heart attacks.
Chocolate is good for your skin too. It’s the flavonoids in dark chocolate can help protect the skin from the harmful UV rays. This is not total protection, so you will still need to apply sunscreen.
Another interesting fact I have found is that chocolate can help you lose weight. But just before you stuff yourself silly on your favourite chocolate bars read on… by slowly eating a small square of dark chocolate 20 minutes before a meal can trigger the hormones in the brain to say I’m full, resulting in you eating less. In turn if you finish your meal with another small square of dark chocolate it can also cut out the need for snacking after your meal – fantastic!!
In conclusion, chocolate contains loads of good things that can help to improve so many health conditions. However, you need to be eating the correct type of chocolate, and one that is not laced with sugar, fat and other flavourings. You need an excellent quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa in it. Otherwise the chocolate could very well have the opposite effect to the one you were hoping for.