Chocolate is universally acknowledged as being a food that's bad for you. It's high in calories and high in sugar, so eating too much will lead to poor dental and physical health.
However, some studies suggest eating a small amount of chocolate, similar to drinking a small glass of red wine, does have a few benefits that will allow you to have your egg guilt-free this Easter. You just need to refer to our portion size guide, or ensure the rest of your diet is prepared healthily (using one of our best health grill entries, perhaps).
Researchers from Houston, Texas, analysed studies from the past fifty years examining the links between chocolate and coronary artery disease (the blockage of the coronary arteries). The analysis included six studies in total, with a total of 336,289 participants who reported their chocolate consumption.
Over an average follow-up of nine years, just over 14,000 participants developed coronary artery disease and a total of 4,667 participants had a heart attack. Compared with consuming chocolate less than once a week, eating chocolate more than once a week was associated with an 8% decreased risk of coronary artery disease.
Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong of Baylor College of Medicine said: “Chocolate contains heart healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol).”
It could be the cacao solids in chocolate causing this decline, or the stress-busting effect of eating a little bit of chocolate once in a while. Either way, this isn't the first time chocolate has been linked to heart health: one study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found chocolate consumption could help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
However, it's worth noting again the serious health implications of eating too much high-sugar food can have on your health. Obesity, prediabetes, poor teeth and gum health, poor hone health... the list goes on.
It just goes to show you can have too much of a good thing, and while a little bit of what you fancy does you good, it's best indulged sparingly. This goes for all unhealthy treats, although if you're planning on getting your savoury treats in a healthier way, there's always the best air fryers.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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