Chocolate isn’t always so bad for you! During Easter, chocolate is usually in abundance, and we often worry about the effects this will have on our health. Because health is our priority, Cape Town Spas, Ginkgo Spa and Wellness Group, looks at the health benefits of chocolate!
Chocolate contains cacao, a bean that is packed full of sweet flavour and healthy properties like flavonoids and theobromine, which improve the immune system.
Studies have also shown that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits: In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third. Another big, long-term study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.
PERFECT MOOD LIFTER
Chocolate has been known to calm moods – it contains calming endorphins that reduce anxiety. It is also high in magnesium which lifts moods and reduces water retention (perfect for PMS). But overindulging in sugar, salt and caffeine is never a good idea and can lead to bloating, fluid retention and weight gain – so like everything in life – moderation is key!
A small study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that daily consumption of cacao flavanol-containing dark chocolate lowered cholesterol and improved blood pressure.
However, if you’re used to eating a lot of sugar, cacao on its own can taste bitter. Here is when the chocolate becomes unhealthy – sugar is added to the cacao bean to “sweeten” it up!
So the true essence of chocolate, the cacao, is not unhealthy – it’s the added sugar!
Reading a food label and the ingredients listed is also very important – “healthy” chocolate have very few ingredients, whereas unhealthy chocolate has many – soya, lecithin, whey, hydrogenated soybean and cotton oils etc. – Chocolate that will give you the listed benefits above contains less ingredients, less rubbish and more cacao! If your food label lists anything that you don’t recognise as an actual food, it’s probably not the best choice.
So when choosing your chocolate at the sweet counter, aim for dark chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the less sugar!
Happy chocolate eating from the Best Spas in Cape Town! Find a Spa near you