Britain Celebrates National Chocolate Week

By Sharon Moore on October 10, 2012

If you’re like most people, everyday is a celebration of sweets and treats. From 8th to 14th of this month, the entire UK is celebrating one of the sweetest weeks in the calendar year – the chocolate week! Various activities have taken place and a lot more are about to happen. Restaurants are done preparing their chooey choco menus, cocoa farms are open for guests who want to know how these lovely treats are made from beans to bars, and the plazas will be filled with stalls displaying chocolate in different colours and forms. Maybe you are too excited just like everybody else is!

Well, there are many reasons why you want to take an extra bite of chocolates. Although it is not the healthiest option if you are looking to shed some pounds, studies have shown that chocolates have plenty of health benefits too.

Why Chocolates?

In a study involving over 37,000 Swedish men, it was found that people who ate more chocolates were less likely to have a stroke. According to Susanna Larsson, one of the authors, and a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the health benefits of chocolates must be attributed to the flavonoids they contain.

Flavonoids are a class of plant secondary metabolites that are found in fruits, vegetables and certain beverages that have antioxidant and biochemical effects. Those that are found in chocolates are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties that are essential in keeping the heart and brain healthy.

The flavonoids in chocolates are also believed to possibly decrease the concentrations of LDL cholesterols (bad cholesterols) and lower blood pressure.

Other studies show that dark chocolate is helpful in balancing blood sugar levels. Moreover, these sweet treats stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain which are responsible for making you feel good.

Wait – there’s more! Chocolates are high in antioxidants too that help remove free radicals that damage the cells, making you look younger in and out.

Oops – before you take a bite…

Sure you have every reason to overeat chocolates this week but you really don’t want to do so. Well, one bar of chocolates has around 400 calories! Too much of it can spoil all your weight loss efforts. Experts recommend limiting the intake of this treat for only 3.5oz a day to reap the benefits without any health risks.

Also, if you are suffering from acne, you want to limit your chocolate consumption. While it is true that it doesn’t cause acne, chocolates can aggravate this condition. And although it can keep your stress levels low, too much chocolate may cause your head to ache. That is because it contains amino acid tyramine, a compound that triggers migraine.

Some more reminders

To get the most out of chocolates without too much health risks, here are some tips when buying these all-time favourite treats.

•   If you’re eating chocolates, cut down on other sugary treats so you don’t get more calories.
•   Go for the dark ones. Dark chocolate contains 60% pure cocoa so most of the antioxidants you are looking for is in it.
•   As much as possible, avoid chocolates that have nougat, caramel and other sugary fillings. Instead, look for those that contain nuts, dried fruits, orange peel and other healthy flavourings.
•   Drink milk later. Milk is not a good pair for a chocolate snack as it prevents the antioxidants from being absorbed by your body.

Have a sweet week ahead!

 

Sources of this article:

http://www.chocolateweek.co.uk/

Chocolate may protect the brain from stroke

Health effects of chocolate, Wikipedia

 

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