23 Mar 2016

Discover the Pros and Cons of your Favourite Chocolate

Nutrition Advice

When it comes to the sweet stuff, we’re often all too quick to eat first and think later. But, do you know the pros and cons of your favourite chocolate?

See how your chocolate of choice stacks up to its counterparts.

Dark Chocolate

On the plus side…

Good quality dark chocolate is rich in fibre, iron, copper, magnesium and manganese, making it a nutritious choice to treat yourself with when your chocolate cravings call. As it’s far more filling than its sweet counterparts, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods – just make sure you stick to the recommended serving size.

Dark chocolate is full of procyanidins, a class of flavonoids that function as antioxidants in the body. As we all know, antioxidants are a key player in preventing and slowing cell damage, so if you’re one for a youthful face and high spirits, treat yourself right.

Although…

The high cocoa content of dark chocolate is not to everyone’s preference – it’s characteristically bitter taste also lends itself to the addition of processed sugar. Be sure to take a close look at the ingredients when choosing your chocolate bar – the cocoa content may be high, but if you’re opting for something with a high sugar content, you’re going to be undoing your good intentions.

As the main ingredient in dark chocolate, cocoa also has a measurable amount of caffeine, making it an inadvisable choice for pregnant women, as well as those with a limited caffeine intake.

Milk Chocolate

On the plus side…

Although not as nutritious as its dark counterpart, milk chocolate offers a number of benefits to your body, including assisting in heart health and boosting concentration levels.

Milk chocolate also provides around 7% of your daily value for copper, helping your body to produce energy and building the connective tissue that strengthens your heart, blood vessels and bones.

Although…

To achieve its sweet velvety texture, milk chocolate’s high-saturated fat content can lead to dangerous conditions when consumed in excess, including cardiovascular disorders, obesity and diabetes. This is furthered by the addition of excess sugar and empty calories.

White Chocolate

On the plus side…

Surprisingly, there is a benefit to chowing down on white chocolate, namely in the form of calcium. An 85 gram serve of white chocolate contains 169 milligrams of calcium, which is essential for supporting the normal functioning of your heart, muscles and nerves.

Although…

Technically, white chocolate isn’t even chocolate – the delicious imposter is simply cocoa butter with sugar and milk, making it high in saturated fat. It’s high calorie, sugar and fat content leaves little room for essential nutrients. Eating white chocolate each day could mean you’re ingesting an unhealthy amount of sugar, which could lead to weight gain and tooth decay.   

Chocolate alternatives

Cocoa Butter

On the plus side…

Most of chocolate’s colour, flavour and caffeine come from cocoa powder, but its cocoa butter that makes up chocolate’s bulk and consistency. It is not inherently unhealthy, but does clock up your calorie intake, due to its high fat content.

Used on the skin and hair, cocoa butter may offer a number of health benefits, including reducing the appearance of scars, stronger hair and reduced skin inflammation.

Although…

Cocoa butter’s high fat content means it’s not recommended for those suffering from obesity or looking to cut down on their daily calorie intake.

Additionally, cocoa butter doesn’t offer any great nutritional benefits from being ingested, so you’re better off using it for cosmetic purposes.

Carob

On the plus side…

Carob is enriched with a number of minerals, including magnesium, copper, potassium and iron, in addition to important nutrients such as vitamins A,B2, B3, B6 and vitamin D. Its flour content provides a good hit of dietary fibre, so all in all, you’re looking at a positive chocolate alternative.

Additionally, carob has about three times as much calcium as cacao powder, so if you’re in need of a calcium boost, it’s definitely a good option.  

Although…

Let’s face it – carob isn’t chocolate. Not even close. It’s inherently bitter or ‘earthy’ taste isn’t as satisfying as the endorphin hit you feel when treating yourself with chocolate. While we can appreciate it on its own merits, carob may not be the most satisfying alternative on the shelf.

Cacao

On the plus side…

Like dark chocolate, raw powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, acting as natural antioxidants which protect the body from aging and disease. Boost your general health and cardiovascular system by using cacao as a chocolate replacement in baking, smoothies and home-made sweet treats.

Although…

Don’t overdo it. Too much cacao can affect your central nervous system interfere with calcium retention. Cacao overload can make you feel sluggish and burnt out – a little like having a caffeine addiction and going without your daily coffee.

Stick to no more than 40 grams of raw cacao a day.

Regardless of your treat of choice, it all comes down to balance. Living an active and healthy lifestyle comes from understanding how to best train and fuel your body.

If you’re eager to learn more, talk to the Australian Institute of Personal Trainers and discover the benefits of becoming a Personal Trainer.

Get in touch with AIPT today.

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