The world is united by their love for chocolate, so when scientists found that chocolate with breakfast is good for you, all the world went:
Who can blame us? After all we are talking about decadent chocolatey heaven.
We already know that cocoa powder, the central ingredient of chocolate, raises serotonin levels in our bodies which lowers the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure and high cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol (HDLs) that can prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.
But now we know from Tel Aviv University that taking dessert with breakfast can even help us lose weight, since it keeps our nighttime cravings down and our bodies tend to convert food to energy early in the day rather than storing it as unsightly fat reserves.
Chocolate is even good for brain performance. A long term study of people aged 23-98 by Syracuse University found that people who ate chocolate at least once a week tended to perform better mentally, possibly due to cocoa flavanol (a component of chocolate) increasing blood flow to the brain.
Which seems to lead to one logical conclusion:
Now before we all give in to our inner child (i.e. go sugar crazy), two small caveats:
1) The Bitter Truth
You might have to switch to dark chocolate to reap the health benefits. A recent review of 19 studies on cocoa flavanols and health found most of them actually looked at dark chocolate (that bittersweet stuff with 60% or more cocoa and hardly any added sugar) – rather than everyone’s favourite milk chocolate.
2) Good for the Long Term?
Despite the impressive list of short term benefits noted by the same review, like lower levels of triglycerides (linked to better heart health), and better control of inflammation and blood sugar, these short term changes may or may not improve health in the longer term – nobody’s quite sure yet. In any case, if we really want an excuse to dig into that Cadbury, the high sugar content is likely to cancel out any benefits derived from the cocoa.
So as always, control.
By Vincent Tan