Chocolate dark - Total Health blog


61% of consumers eat chocolate weekly.
Consumers are choosing chocolate as a snack or an indulgent treat and there is a growing number seeking out plant-based and gluten free alternatives. The Swiss are the world’s biggest chocolate eaters, gorging on almost 9kg per capita each year. Australia and New Zealand are not far behind with an average chocolate consumption of around 5kg per person per year. Americans consume 1.3 billion kg of chocolate each year, or over 5kg per person. Americans eat an average of 10kg of sweet treats each year, split almost equally between candy and chocolate. According to health experts, consuming around 30 grams of dark chocolate per day is a healthy amount for most people. This equates to two small squares of dark chocolate! Going overboard just because its “dark chocolate” is not ok so you cannot eat a whole block guilt-free. Yes, there are antioxidants in dark chocolate. Antioxidants have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart, thus lowering the risks of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from heart disease. But see Myths below. Interestingly, women prefer to eat chocolate more than men. While preference among women stands at 91%, for men it is 87%.

Chocolate - Total Health blog

Chocolate is made from tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds and its earliest use dates to the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica. After the European discovery of America, chocolate became very popular in the wider world, and its demand exploded, but initially it wasn’t sweetened. Chocolate has since become a popular food product that millions indulge in every day, because of its unique, rich, and sweet taste.

Some Facts:

  • Use of Chocolate is overall highest among the 45-54 age group of generation Xers.
  • Women are more likely than men to purchase chocolate.
  • Chocolate purchases vary somewhat across different household income brackets but are high among all groups.
  • Presence of children in the household.
  • White chocolate and milk chocolate are high in saturated fat and added sugars. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overconsumption of saturated fat and added sugars is associated with high cholesterol and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Are chocolate sales the highest at Easter? According to research from the Nielsen Company, Easter historically trumps Valentine’s Day with 71 million pounds of chocolate candy purchased. But in the US, Halloween trumps both of those holidays; more than 90 million pounds of chocolate candy are purchased for the spooky, treat-filled holiday.
  • Today, the chocolate market is dominated by 5 major companies – Mondelez (Cadburys),Hershey’s, Mars, Ferraro, and Nestle. Between the 5 of them, they have a 61.8% market share globally. And it’s these companies who dictate dominate how we think of chocolate.
  • Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.
  • Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.
  • Chocolate contains a large number of calories, sugar, fat and additives.
  • People who are seeking to lose or maintain weight should reduce the consumption of chocolate as much as possible.

When it comes to chocolate there is a lot of information, myths and convenient truth floating around like the one around easter where the news tells you research has shown that chocolate consumption is healthy!? They don’t specify which chocolate and also not in what amount! Just to keep it clear chocolate is not your next broccoli or kale.

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Here are some of the common myths around chocolate:

Myth #1: Dark Chocolate is a superfood.
To quote a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and head of the Preventative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital:
“Chocolate is a wonderful treat but not a health food. Any anti-inflammatory benefits from the flavanols in cacao would require you to eat 700 calories worth of dark chocolate or at least 5,000 calories of milk chocolate each day which means consuming a lot of sugar, fat and calories which will not necessarily improve your health.”

Myth #2: You don’t have to worry about caffeine in Chocolate.
Chocolate has less caffeine than coffee, 24mg per ounce for dark chocolate compared to 95 mg for a cup of coffee and 40mg for a regular soda. However, caffeine accumulates in your system and takes about five hours for half of it to be excreted. So, if you drink a few cups of coffee during the day and add chocolate in the evening, you may experience trouble falling asleep.

Myth #3: Chocolate is an aphrodisiac.
Studies have not been conclusive in finding that chocolate revs up people’s sexual response. In some responses the opposite was claimed. It has been proven that regular physical exercise boosts the brain’s feel-good chemicals improving overall health and well being, supported by a healthy diet.

Myth #4: Dark chocolate is dairy free.
Not necessarily the case unfortunately. It’s been found that even brands that claim to be vegan and dairy free may contain whey and casein so be wary if your have a milk allergy.

Myth #5: Period hormones make women crave chocolate.
This could be more psychological and cultural than hormonal. Chocolate can make us feel better during a cranky episode but there is no biological reason to reach for chocolate during your period.

Myth #6 Chocolate supports a healthy lifestyle and weight management.
This could not be further from the truth. Let’s get to the fact’s – chocolate contains sugar and fat and often other nasties. And let’s just be clear, even if the sugar is organic for the body, it is still sugar! Dark chocolate bars you can buy in the supermarket that are 70, 80, 85 and even 90% cacao all still contain sugar. What does your body do with this? When sugar and fat are consumed together, your body will immediately focus on trying to eliminate the sugar which it sees as a poison (organic or conventional) – meaning all systems are working on the sugar, but to do so, your body will put the fat aside as it cannot deal with it at that moment. Putting aside means it stores the fat in the areas you mostly don’t want such as hips, thighs, tummy and upper arms.

So overall chocolate is not a good deal where your health is concerned.

If you like the taste of chocolate, consider using a teaspoon of organic 100% cacao powder and adding that to desserts (e.g. blueberry-chocolate pudding and chocolate nice cream from the Summer Recipe eBook) to get your healthy chocolate flavour treat.

For recipe ideas look at our recipe e-books