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Chocolate: Healthy or unhealthy?

Chocolate is available in a wide variety of flavors. But whether white, dark or milk chocolate – one thing is common to all varieties: chocolate is not exactly healthy, as it contains a lot of fat and sugar and therefore also many calories. However, cocoa powder also contains certain substances that can have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart health. This effect is particularly large when snacking on dark chocolate, as it contains an extremely large amount of cocoa powder.

Chocolate: Healthy or unhealthy?

Chocolate: Calories and Ingredients

Chocolate is rich in fat and sugar and therefore far from healthy. Depending on whether it is white, whole milk, or dark chocolate, the ingredients may vary slightly.

What all varieties have in common, however, is that they contain a relatively large number of calories. On average, it brings a table to 500 to 550 calories. This already covers a quarter of an adult's daily calorie requirement.

➤ White chocolate is the unhealthiest of the three variants. It has the most calories on average and also contains the most sugar: 100 grams contain about 63 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat.

➤ Milk chocolate has a similar number of calories but contains a little less sugar at 57 grams. However, their fat content is similarly high at 29.5 grams.

➤ Dark chocolate is the healthiest choice by comparison: with just under 500 calories, it contains about 50 calories less than the other two varieties. In addition, it contains 44 grams of sugar, but 36 grams of fat.

Does chocolate make you happy?

Chocolate contains various substances that are attributed to a mood-enhancing effect. Cocoa powder contains theobromine, which, like caffeine, stimulates circulation and is also mood-enhancing. Phenylethylamine, the cannabinoid anandamide, and the serotonin precursor Tryptophan also have a mood-enhancing effect.

However, the mood-enhancing effect of the sweet treat can not be completely explained by the ingredients mentioned. The effect they have is too small for that. Presumably, psychological factors also make us happy with chocolate. Because when consumed, our reward system is activated and the neurotransmitter dopamine and endorphins are released.

Positive effect on health 

Eating chocolate, especially bitter chocolate, can cause the level of heart-protective antioxidants to rise sharply for some time. Cocoa powder contains certain flavonoids (epicatechin) that have a positive effect on heart and blood pressure. They make the vessels more elastic and thus lower blood pressure.

Those who regularly eat small amounts of bitter chocolate should be able to reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack in addition to blood pressure.

However, flavonoids are also found in other foods such as apples. The positive effect on blood pressure is therefore no reason to feast on chocolate without inhibition.

Risk of obesity and subsequent diseases

Although bitter chocolate can have a positive effect on health, remember that chocolate is a sweet that contains a lot of fat, sugar, and calories. Those who regularly consume larger amounts significantly increase their risk of obesity and associated with cardiovascular disease.

In addition, the likelihood of getting tooth decay increases.

Chocolate and acne

Whether chocolate can promote the development of acne and pimples remains to be determined. However, recent studies suggest that there is a link between the consumption of chocolate and the development of ordinary acne (Acne vulgaris).

Bitter chocolate only in moderation

Although bitter chocolate contains less sugar and fewer calories than other varieties, you should only consume the sweet in moderation. Because there is a lot of cocoa powder in bitter chocolate, which – depending on the location of the cocoa tree – can be contaminated with cadmium. This is especially true for cocoa powder from South America, as cocoa plants often grow there on volcanic soil that contains a lot of cadmium.

Cadmium is a chemical element that can cause damage to kidneys and bones in large quantities. The introduction of a limit value for cadmium in chocolate is repeatedly called for, but implementation is still pending.

Harmful aluminum in chocolate

In addition, one should better limit one's chocolate consumption due to the increased aluminum content in cocoa. Aluminum can have a negative impact on the nervous system, fertility, and bone development.

According to a 2008 opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the average aluminum content of untreated foods is less than five milligrams per kilogram. Among other things, however, foods such as cocoa – and accordingly chocolate products – may also have a higher concentration.