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Chocolate healthy or unhealthy?

Dr. Adrian Weingart

Chocolate healthy or unhealthy?

The myth about chocolate - is it healthy or unhealthy?

We dedicate this blog post to all those with a sweet tooth out there who sometimes ask themselves “Is chocolate really that unhealthy after all?”. Everyone knows these days when time passes sooo slowly - especially in the home office. Boredom breeds hunger. But if the 15 When you go to the fridge and you still can't find a snack that really turns you on, you always reach for the last resort - a bar of chocolate. Then you decide to only eat one or maybe two pieces, but then - after another tiny piece and another... - the whole table is suddenly crushed and a guilty conscience creeps up.
It doesn't matter whether it's dark, white or milk chocolate - we love all variations of this delicious dessert. The only problem is that chocolate is not exactly healthy because it contains a lot of fat and sugar and therefore a lot of calories. But there is also good news: Dark chocolate in particular contains many ingredients that can have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart health.
But now we finally come to the most important question - Is chocolate healthy or unhealthy?
To answer this question, we need to start with the basics. What is contained in which type of chocolate and what effects do the ingredients have on our body?

  • Bitter chocolate: This type of chocolate is characterized by the fact that it has a particularly high cocoa content. If chocolate has a cocoa content of more than 70%, it is called dark chocolate. From a share of 55% it may be called dark chocolate. In general, the higher the cocoa content, the less milk it contains and the tart and stronger the sweet tastes. The good news for all dark chocolate lovers - this variety is actually the healthiest! A bar of dark chocolate has around 500 calories and usually contains less than two spoonfuls of sugar. The higher the cocoa content - the less sugar!
  • Full milk chocolate: As the name suggests, this type of chocolate contains a lot of milk or milk powder. Everyone knows the typically mild and sweet taste of milk chocolate. This confectionery contains much more sugar than, for example, dark chocolate. And unfortunately not only that - due to the high proportion of milk or milk powder, it also has a higher fat content. That means exactly one thing - whole milk chocolate is unhealthier.
  • White chocolate: Strictly speaking, white chocolate is actually not chocolate at all - did you know that? This is because it contains no cocoa at all, only cocoa butter. At the same time, this also ensures the well-known light yellow color. White chocolate also contains a lot of sugar, milk and other flavorings such as vanilla. You can probably already imagine it: white chocolate is the most unhealthy kind due to its high fat and sugar content!

But now we come back to a few positive aspects. For those with a sweet tooth out there, rejoice because chocolate has been shown to have some beneficial effects on the body! Dark chocolate in particular is high in antioxidants. In fact, there are a lot of polyphenols and flavonoids in cocoa seeds. These substances are known to be able to render the free radicals in the cells harmless. This is positive insofar as free radicals can trigger serious diseases. These include, for example, heart attacks, arthritis and cancer. But flavonoids in particular can counteract exactly that! They are also considered to lower blood pressure and can apparently also regulate blood sugar levels. Especially catechins - substances that belong to the flavonoids - have positive effects on the body. You may already know these substances from green and black tea. Catechins are true all-rounders - they can counteract stress hormones, kill different strains of bacteria in the body and even prevent inflammation! And now it comes: Dark chocolate contains four times as many catechins as tea. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that chocolate is four times as healthy as tea. Nevertheless, if you treat yourself to a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate at the coffee party, you are certainly not doing anything wrong!
It has also been scientifically proven that chocolate can stimulate blood circulation in the brain. This has similar effects as drinking coffee and can make certain tasks easier to perform and increase the alertness of the brain for a short time.

Ultimately, however, the rule is always - dosis facit venenum. Dark chocolate should also only be consumed in small amounts, because this is also a processed candy and contains a lot of fat, sugar and therefore calories. It is well known that fat and sugar are very bad for the body. They can promote diabetes and are also bad for your teeth and skin. We're sorry if we may have given you too much hope with the above text, unfortunately you shouldn't stuff yourself with white and milk chocolate without restraint. These two little sins contain less flavonoids, but at the same time more fat and sugar.

So, we have clarified the first myth about chocolate. Now we come to the second statement: Chocolate makes you happy. But is that true?

Almost everyone knows it, you are stressed, or sad, or frustrated, or angry, or offended, or just in a bad mood. And what helps? What instantly improves mood? Of course, a little piece of chocolate.
The only problem here is that from a scientific point of view, this is unfortunately not true. For the chocolate feelings of happiness, the substance should be phenylethylamine. The good news is: this is actually contained in chocolate. The substance affects the neurotransmitters in your brain and ensures that the happiness hormone serotonin is released. The bad news: The effects of phenylethylamine are still scientifically controversial and the amount contained in chocolate is very small - just as high as in cheese. The other substances that are contained in chocolate and are supposed to provide feelings of happiness, such as theobromine, phenethylamine, cannabinoidamide and tryptophan, are unfortunately also contained in too small a quantity in chocolate to produce noticeable effects. From a strictly scientific point of view, the statement that chocolate makes you happy is unfortunately not true.
However, chocolate can still act as a comforter. But that only works if we also want the little sin to unleash its magic. This means that chocolate has a positive effect on your mood from a psychological point of view, because if you associate the enjoyment of chocolate with something positive, a little sin can actually put you in a better mood. It's not because chocolate is a psychological miracle drug, it's simply because the brain has learned to pour out happiness when you treat yourself to some chocolate! The chocolate then takes on a quasi-reward function and your body automatically releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins after consumption.

We hope that with this blog post we have been able to shed some light on the myth of chocolate. But let us give you one last tip - bitter chocolate is better chocolate. As previously mentioned, dark chocolate contains less sugar and fewer calories compared to its sweet competitors - white and milk chocolate.

But in general, a small piece of chocolate doesn't hurt, because chocolate can make us happy. And if you otherwise pay attention to a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly and are aware of your health, the small sin in small quantities can't be bad at all!


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