A little of what you fancy does you good - especially if it’s chocolate. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging, you can now feel good, as chocolate is officially beneficial for health. And that’s just as well, as we Brits consume over 80 million chocolate eggs each Easter which works out at a staggering 9kg per person. The reason chocolate gets the ‘thumbs up’ from researchers is because it contains large quantities of antioxidants - chemicals that help to neutralise some of the harmful chemical reactions occurring as part of our metabolism and during exposure to pollutants. In essence, antioxidants stop us going rusty inside.
Eating chocolate makes you feel good. It increases brain levels of several chemicals, including mood-altering PEA (phenylethylamine, related to amphetamine), which produces a mild, confidence-instilling buzz. Chocolate also contains tryptophan - a chemical converted to serotonin in the brain to lift mood and increase euphoria - and theobromine, a stimulant that peps you up. Chocolate is also virtually unique in that it melts in the mouth at body temperature, producing a silky, luscious sensation that adds to its appeal and, according to psychologists, is one of the main reasons why chocolate proves so addictive.
All in all, it seems that, as part of a balanced diet, we might all benefit from eating 100g chocolate per day - but make sure it is dark and expensive!
- Eat it after a meal when you are full and less likely to over-indulge.
- Eating chocolate after a meal means you can clean teeth and floss soon afterwards - perhaps with a chocolate flavoured toothpaste to prolong the pleasure!
- Buy small-sized bars, not family-sized slabs.
- Eat with fresh fruit - the renewed craze for chocolate fondues makes this simplicity itself.
- Let chocolate rest in your mouth for long enough to melt and coat your taste buds and the roof of your mouth to experience the full range of flavours and textures.
- Learn to savour the lingering memory of each bite before immediately devouring the next.