Easter chocolate made healthy... almost

Siski Green / 21 March 2016

There’s no need to avoid chocolate eggs this Easter, just be careful what, and how, you eat them.



Chocolate isn’t all bad

A study from Monash University, Australia, suggests that regular consumption of dark chocolate could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack. Based on mathematical models, researchers predict that by eating dark chocolate every day – 100g per day – 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people could be prevented over a period of ten years.

Related: Learn more about the health benefits of chocolate

Chocolate can improve blood flow

Rather like aspirin has a blood-thinning effect, so does chocolate, according to research from Johns Hopkins University, USA. The flavonols in cocoa help prevent platelets clumping together, which can lead to restricted blood flow. That said, the research also found that to enjoy the same heart benefits as you get from eating a baby aspirin per day, you’d need to eat a lot of chocolate – several bars a day. That could lead to other problems such as diabetes and tooth decay, for example. So best to stick to it as a treat.

Related: How to reduce the amount of sugar you eat

Choose eggs with high cocoa content

It’s the cocoa bean that contains all those good flavonoids. The researchers from Monash University suggest that a bar contains a minimum of 70% cocoa, for best results.

Related: All about antioxidants

Dark chocolate will be more satisfying

Unlike lighter chocolate, which contains less cocoa solids, dark chocolate fills you up more. The effect is probably negligible in reality but research from Yale University found that dark chocolate is higher fibre than other kinds of chocolate.

Dark chocolate is also lower in sugar

Chocolate is a sweet treat and as such, it’s a threat to your dental and gum health, according to the London Toothwear Centre. Choose chocolate with a high cocoa content and you’re also opting for a lower-sugar version.

Warm chocolate is better than cold

Ever noticed how much sweeter ice cream tastes when it has melted? That’s because your tongue can’t sense the sugar when it’s so cold. Similarly, with chocolate if you eat it cold from the fridge, say, it’ll feel less satisfying than if you eat it slightly warm or at least at room temperature. Hold it in your mouth and let it melt for maximum enjoyment.

Sticky chocolate fillings are best avoided

As toffee or caramel centres tend to stick to your teeth, they’re worse for your dental health. The London Toothwear Centre recommends avoiding these, and drinking milk or water along with whatever chocolate you do eat, to rinse away residue and protect your teeth.

But chocolate can’t do it alone

Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you eat dark chocolate every day, you don’t need to exercise or change your overall diet. Diet and exercise are – and always will be – the key to maintaining heart health. But eating some dark chocolate too, may help.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.