Chocolate: the Christmas star

During the Christmas period, the consumption of chocolate increases enormously. Indeed, more than 9% of annual chocolate sales take place during the festive season. It is a food that is often mistaken for being incompatible with a balanced diet; too sweet, too fat. However, provided you choose the right type of chocolate (or more specifically, cocoa), it can have multiple benefits. So let’s focus on quality over quantity. Here are some useful tips to help you choose the best quality chocolate products.

What are the benefits of cocoa?

Dark chocolate and chocolate contain the most cocoa. According to several studies*, its consumption (in reasonable quantities, and as part of a varied diet) can lead to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, cocoa contains polyphenols (as does red wine, fruits, vegetables and tea) that contain antioxidant properties that help cleanse our bodies. Consuming polyphenols, found in chocolate, can even change its the composition of your microbiota  by increasing the amount of anti-inflammatory bacteria** . The consumption of dark chocolate is therefore even recommendable for the elderly.

Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, calcium and potassium. Magnesium helps reduce stress, prevents cardiovascular disorders, relaxes your muscles and promotes nerve transmission. It is even more effective when combined with the calcium found in dark chocolate. Potassium has almost the same effects as magnesium, and in addition allows the proper functioning of your kidneys.

The combination of chocolate with sugar stimulates the secretion of hormones associated with happiness, so, theoretically, you should be in a good mood for the rest of the day.

However, to get most from the cocoa, you need to choose it carefully.

How to get the most out of these benefits?

In a chocolate bar:

Rather than relying on the brand, carefully check the label on the back of the bar. Ideally, it should be at least 70% black. If its first ingredient is sugar, you can go straight to the next bar! The first ingredient on the label must be cocoa, meaning that the main ingredient of the product and will produce the benefits previously mentioned. If possible, choose a chocolate with Organic Farming and from fair trade on the label.

In powder :

Is your chocolate powder just one big yellow box purchased for the kids? If so, change it straight away! The ingredients chart on the side of the box is quite particular, as everything is measured in relation to two teaspoons in 200ml of milk, rather than the whole box. It is therefore, almost impossible to calculate the exact proportions of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates etc to compare them with daily recommendations. Take a look at the list of ingredients: the first is sugar, the second is cocoa (only 21%). Simply put, it is just not good enough. When shopping, compare the labels and make sure you choose the chocolate powder with the most amount of cocoa, and the least amount of sugar. These type of chocolates make delicious hot chocolates which you can regularly enjoy with the family, and without a sense of guilt.

Chocolate yogurts

Check that your product has the word “yogurt” indicated on the packaging, otherwise it is a dessert cream, – much sweeter and containing more additives! And if not, always opt for  a dark chocolate yoghurt.

Chocolate spread

According to the Consoglobe website, 3 out of 4 French households consume Nutella. Yet it’s far from the best spread! Being an old addict of Nutella myself, I noticed that during my periods of abstention, after a few days, I stopped craving it. But out of habit, I’d started eating it again. Its sugar is the main reason behind this as it gives you a sense of  pleasure. But once you start reducing your sugar intake, your cravings gradually diminish. That’s why it’s so important to always look at the label to check the amount of sugar ! In organic, or fair-trade spreads, the quantities of cocoa, hazelnut and sugar are distributed more evenly. Have a look at what other brands do, you’ll be surprised! Finally, if you have time, you can always make your own homemade spread!

 

Researching the best products takes time and sometimes it requires a bigger budget, but remember, quality is paramount to your health. Once you have compared and found the product that suits you, it will be time saved for the next shop which will also, hopefully, make it more enjoyable!

Lastly, chocolate is an aphrodisiac; we have a special aphrodisiac program to help boost your libido, in addition to many other foods that make this program effective.


* Mendonça, R. D., Carvalho, N. C., Martin-Moreno & al (2018). Total polyphenol intake, polyphenol subtypes and incidence of cardiovascular disease: The SUN cohort study. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2018.09.012

Dong JY, Iso H., Yamagishi K. & al (2017). Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke among men and women: A large population-based, prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2017.03.004

** Magrone, T., Russo, M. A., & Jirillo, E. (2017). Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Frontiers in Immunology, 8. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677

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