The nutrition of chocolate
Is it healthy? Are some chocolates better than others?
Lauren Khouri, a nutrition graduate from the University of Florida, answers your questions and dispells some myths about chocolate.
What is your title or position?
I’m a research coordinator at the Food Science and Human Nutrition department.
Is chocolate healthy?
A lot of health professionals have been debating whether or not it actually is healthy or not. It does, the reason for health benefits comes from what’s called flavonoid antioxidants, which are highly present in dark chocolate. And they’ve been associated with lower risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But the processing of chocolate greatly debates whether or not it is health or not. Chocolate on the other end also contains high amounts of fats and sugar, which are obviously not beneficial to one’s diet.
How nutritious is chocolate, in terms of fat, cholesterol, etc.?
It depends on what kind of chocolate, white chocolate versus milk and also dark chocolate. In general, it ranges from about 150 to 170 calories per ounce of chocolate. And dark chocolate contains a much higher amount of fat, while milk chocolate surprisingly a lower amount. It’s about eight grams. But all three types of chocolates, once again, are high in saturated fat, which is not the good kind at all. But the one benefit is that dark chocolate contains no cholesterol because there is no milk added.
Is there a “healthy chocolate”? If so, which type of chocolate is the healthiest? Why?
It would be the dark variety. The Mayo Clinic suggests containing a dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65 or higher. And that’s due to those antioxidant factors.
What is the recommended intake of chocolate for adults?
There’s no textbook amount. There’s actually a study out of the University of Michigan which suggests one ounce of dark chocolate per day. That’s no more than seven ounces per week to achieve the antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate while eliminating the calories and fats associated with it.
Are there health consequences of eating chocolate? If so, what are they?
Well the same is including a higher-calorie diet, such as obesity and such and also the high fat consumption. But also if you incorporate it and have smaller amounts you won’t get any repercussions from it. But it would be the same effects of you eating a large Thanksgiving dinner.
Are there health benefits to eating chocolate? If so, what are they?
Antioxidants have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and also lower your blood pressure. And it also creates many essential minerals, such as magnesium, iron and zinc.
What are some healthier alternatives to eating chocolate that can still satisfy cravings for sweets?
Well, I have to say the obvious there is the fruit. It’s a good and sweet alternative, and also yogurt or adding cocoa powder to your foods, if you’re already eating food such as oatmeal. You can just add that in. Also, if you want to receive the antioxidants, a good recommendation is citrus fruits.
What are some myths about chocolate?
One misconception is that it’s also high in caffeine. While chocolate does contain some caffeine, it’s much less than of coffee or soda. And it also contains the same amount as decaffeinated coffee. Another myth is that chocolate causes acne. Many studies and dermatologists have claimed that this is false, and acne is thought to be caused by high bacteria levels.
Anything else people should know about the nutrition of chocolate?
The main thing I want to stress is that if you eat dark chocolate, it can be easily incorporated into a health diet. It isn’t a red cross food. You can definitely eat it if you’d like. Everything within moderation.