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Death By Chocolate?

chocolate

Image thanks to jhritz

So, Halloween is on its way, and whether you have your costume ready or not, there’s a far more pressing issue to concern yourself with:

Is chocolate really all that bad for you?

Lordy, we love it right?

People have been enjoying the flavor since about 140 BC, believe it or not. Yeah, that’s way before the Mayans were meeting up with Spaniards.

But the sweet stuff has its stigmas. It’s hard to tell the facts from the fiction.

So is the love of chocolate a blessing or a curse?

Good Stuff

On the pro side, chocolate has antioxidants, which you may not know about but you should love. They fix and prevent all kinds of cellular damage. They may also help reduce high blood pressure and inflammation.

Another good thing about chocolate is it literally makes you feel better. It has several chemicals that induce a “feel good” state of mind. Your brain will take the tryptophan in chocolate and turn it into serotonin, which is responsible for a lot of our happy thoughts, euphoria, and confidence.  It kind of makes you feel like you’re in love, which may be why we love chocolate.

What else can chocolate do? There’s that old wives’ tale blaming chocolate for acne and blemishes… but actually, it has other antioxidants called flavonoids that will help your skin by increasing UV protection. Also it contains theobromine, which can calm a pesky cough!

Not So Good Stuff

As with most things, the benefits of chocolate get lost when you mess with the simplicity of the source material. If only we could just get a pure form of chocolate, but it isn’t easy to find without getting a lot of other stuff in it.

Typically, you’re not just getting a simple by-product of the cocoa plant. You’re getting caramel, sugar, and a bunch of other stuff better known for having drawbacks than having benefits. This adds calories to a food already high in calories! Plenty of people prefer the easier to find sweeter styles, the milk over the dark, which is an unfortunate inclination. Dark chocolate is less tampered with and has better benefits.

And those good feelings I mentioned before do have a flipside. That upswing chocolate gives can be followed by a downswing as it disperses from the body. This can cause sugar spikes and mood swings, and knock us off an even cycle.

And as with anything, eating too much will give you a belly ache. Just ask your kids after the trick-or-treating is done.

Conclusion

The best advice to take when it comes to chocolate is the same for just about anything: moderation. Try to stay with dark chocolates with 70% or more cocoa content. Go for it and indulge every so often, but don’t go overboard. After all, if Halloween was every night, it would lose its magic. So, the trick is to keep the treat a treat.

 

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