With Easter coming this weekend, things to look forward include a couple of extra days off, meeting up with friends/family and chocolate Easter eggs!
When it comes to indulging in chocolate, there are of course reasons to exercise caution and top of the list has to be the calories. According to Nutracheck
- The average 260g adult Easter egg will have 1,378 calories. It would take you six and a half hours to walk it off.
- An average 103g child’s egg is around 545 calories
- An average 295g giant egg comes in at 1,564 calories and would require practically a whole day’s walking – 7 hrs 25 minutes – to walk it off.
Chocolate is high in calories and excess calorie intake leads to weight gain, which increases the risk of health problems including diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease.
Of course, you don’t have to eat the whole thing in one sitting and could always share it!
Benefits of Chocolate
If you can manage not to over-indulge, there are some scientific benefits to chocolate.
Firstly, its mood-enhancing properties. Dr Tara McMorrow, senior lecturer in bio-medical science in UCD, says:
“Chocolate contains small levels of serotonin which, along with theobromine, will enhance your mood. Not only that, but it also contains phenylethylamine – otherwise known as ‘the love drug’. The neurochemical response to it is very similar to what you see when someone falls in love. You get a surge in dopamine and serotonin that gives you a feeling of elation. Some people have suggested that it is similar to the effects of marijuana.”
Secondly, antioxidant effects:
“The polyphenols and theobromine found in cacao produce antioxidant effects similar to green teas. Antioxidants can help remove damaged cells in the body and can also protect cells from damage.”
The seratonin and antioxidants are found in cacao, so chocolate with higher proportions of cacao are going to deliver greater health benefits. Dark chocolate is richer in theobromine and polyphenols which can act as antioxidants which can protect our cells from damage. Research has also shown that polyphenols, or phenolics, may help lower the risk of heart disease and are good for our gut.
How Much to Eat?
However, bearing in mind the calorific nature of chocolate, the potential health benefits must be considered against the risks of over-indulgence. Less than half a bar a week is required to benefit from a protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease; and these findings apply to dark chocolate only as milk chocolate does not have the same effect (it may contain no cacao at all).
So in summary, a small amount of dark chocolate can be good for your health, but over-eating is never a good idea.
Nutritionists and Dietitians
The Smart Clinics also offer professional help for those seeking to find the most appropriate diet to help them lose weight. Their team of nutritionists or dietitians can work with patients – including children – tackling issues such as unhealthy snacking and overeating with customised diet programmes designed around the patient’s goals.
Contact The Smart Clinics
For private London healthcare, The Smart Clinics offer a unique membership based private GP service with access to a friendly team of experienced GPs and health professionals, which entitles individuals, families and corporate members to unlimited GP access for a monthly fee.
Telephone: 020 7052 0070