Getting to the Bottom of the Craving: Facts and Myths About Chocolate
It's no secret that people love chocolate. Once known as xocolātl among the Mesoamerican cultures that cultivated cocoa for millennia to drink, this alluring natural food has since become a global phenomenon.
Today, chocolate enthusiasts and casual consumers everywhere can't get enough of this sweet treat in its many forms. There are, however, some misconceptions floating around about the properties that make chocolate so special.
People struggling with weight gain, blood sugar levels and other problems often assume that they have to give up chocolate entirely. This is usually not actually the case. Here are a few essential facts that could further your understanding of the role chocolate plays in a healthy lifestyle.
Dispelling Common Myths
Chocolate enjoys near-legendary status among many cultures. You may think of it as having indulgent qualities, but chocolate has many vital properties that have been well studied.
This knowledge goes a long way toward dispelling myths like the following:
Myth #1: Chocolate Lacks Nutritional Value
Chocolate comes from a plant known as the cocoa tree, or Theobroma cacao. This tropical evergreen produces numerous seeds, commonly referred to as beans, which humans process to make various chocolate products.
Like many plant-derived foods, chocolate is a notable source of numerous trace elements, vitamins and other nutrients, including:
- Minerals like copper, magnesium, iron and manganese, which contribute to healthy circulatory, nervous, connective and bone tissue;
- Antioxidants like polyphenols that may help reduce damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress; and
- Caffeine and theobromine, stimulants that can relax muscles and fight fatigue in limited quantities.
Different forms of chocolate are also known for containing vitamins A, C, D and E in varying amounts. It's important to remember that additives have significant impacts on the nutritional value of chocolate products. For instance, the milk byproducts added to some store-bought chocolate candies introduce protein and calcium, but they can also contribute unnecessary fat and cholesterol. A number of conventional recipes also add unhealthy quantities of refined sugars that come with empty calories. This is something you don’t have to worry about when you eat ChocoPerfection’s sugar-free chocolate bars.
Myth #2: Eating Chocolate Contributes to Unhealthy Cholesterol and Weight Gain
The seeds and fruits of many cultivated plant species contain oils. These oils are comprised of chemicals that include fatty acids like palmitic, oleic and stearic acids.
Some research suggests that the stearic acid which makes up a significant part of chocolate's fat content doesn't actually induce weight gain. One
2006 study promotes the theory that chocolate consumption could even contribute to improved heart health. Researchers think stearic acid may have a neutral or insignificant impact on cholesterol and that the flavonoids in chocolate actually offer some defense against coronary heart disease.
The way manufacturers process their chocolate affects how many of the health advantages you enjoy. Some beneficial compounds, like flavonols that fight free radicals,
break down during heat treatment and similar processing. It's definitely worth investigating your favorite producer's secret recipe.
We should point out here that because of the high prebiotic fiber content in chicory root (the all-natural sweetener used in ChocoPerfection chocolate), eating ChocoPerfection will actually stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon and decrease your hunger levels while also satisfying your sweet tooth.
Myth #3: Chocolate Is Bad for Your Teeth
Eating natural chocolate doesn't increase the risk that you'll develop cavities. Such problems generally arise when you consume chocolates that are packed with added sugars or starchy fillers. Because these substances are largely absent from unmodified cocoa, however, chocolate lovers who are careful about what they buy have a lot more leeway. In other words, stick to dark, sugar-free products with a transparent, traceable production chain.
Myth #4: Chocolate Increases Your Blood Sugar
Although most chocolate will increase blood sugar levels due to the high levels of sugar in each bite, ChocoPerfection breaks this trend with its sugar-free chicory root alternative, which won’t affect blood sugar levels at all. Diabetics rejoice!
Putting Science and Nature to Work
There are two alternatives to enjoying regular, sugary chocolate: indulge in the natural stuff with no sweeteners added (for a very bitter taste) or find products that are sweetened with naturally derived alternatives.
With a host of plant-based, non-sugar options like Stevia rebaudiana and mogrosides from monk fruits, it's entirely possible to be a chocoholic without adverse health effects or massive guilt. Chocolates containing sweeteners like chicory root, for instance, are great for those who want a piece of their favorite flavors without the adverse health effects.
Even if you suffer from health issues or are seeking the ultimate toned physique, there's no reason you can't enjoy the pleasure of chocolate. You just have to make sure you’re informed of your options – and make the best choices for your body.