Easter weekend is the bearer of all things sweet – especially chocolate and mini eggs. Still, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician from Vancouver, says it’s important to be mindful when indulging in those sweet treats.
First, it’s important to know that not all chocolate is the same. While milk chocolate tends to be the go-to chocolate of choice for many, it’s not as healthy compared to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains less cocoa and is also diluted with things like milk, cream and sugar. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, tends to have more cocoa present, therefore making it much healthier for you. This is because cocoa is a source antioxidants known as flavonoids, which are helpful in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and asthma…and can also reduce inflammation in the body. Some studies have even suggested that it can reduce blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Dark chocolate also tends to have less sugar and fat content in comparison to milk (and even white) chocolate. When deciding on what type of dark chocolate you want, always make sure you are choosing chocolate that contains at least 65% cacao. The higher the cacao content, the better it will be for you.
That being said, there are also negative impacts that chocolate consumption can have – tooth decay being one of the biggest problems. Because chocolate can be high in sugar, that sugar sits on your teeth and can eventually lead to cavities. Once you develop a cavity you will require a filling, and in some cases may even need a root canal depending on the severity of the tooth decay and whether or not your dentist thinks that your tooth (or teeth) can be saved. To prevent tooth decay from occurring, you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice per day (morning and night.) Taking care of your oral health is just as important as every other aspect of your health.
If you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines, chocolate is also something you’ll want to avoid as it, along with other foods (such as cheese, nuts, peanut butter and citrus fruits), can be a trigger. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who consumes chocolate will develop a headache or a migraine, as foods affect everyone differently.
The average chocolate bar contains anywhere from 200 to 220 calories, which is considered low enough for anyone wanting to maintain a healthy weight. However, just like any other food, chocolate should be consumed in moderation. For more information on healthy eating including sweet treat alternatives, click here.