First off, Happy Easter!
If you’re a part of the Christian community, today is the day to show remembrance for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today also marks the end of Lent, the 40 day fasting period. However, for those less devote followers, Easter has become marked by another tradition – sweets, and above all, chocolate.
While many people will feel guilt after the holiday, having scarfed down a few dozen chocolate eggs, a bunny (also chocolate, of course), and a handful of other sweets, there may be some benefits to this indulgence. But this isn’t a blank check! Keep in mind that the best chocolate is chocolate that is high in cocoa content and made with the richest ingredients. Processed chocolate is sometime less chocolate than anything else.
Benefits of Chocolate
When it comes down to it, one of the things that makes chocolate so good for you is the flavonoids. This is the antioxidant that shields the plant from toxins and helps repair damage, and those benefits also seem to transfer over to us humans. Micronutrients such as this are useful for maintaining optimal health.
With chocolate, the flavonoid contained is flavanol. According to Cleveland Clinic, “In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research indicates that flavanols have other positive influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart, making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, and lowering cholesterol.”
These flavanols, along with caffeine, tyramine, phenylethylamine and chemicals contained, may also do something for us mentally – raise our serotonin and endorphin levels. Know that happy feeling you get when you eat chocolate? Well, this is why. The chemicals also stimulate other areas like appetite, sexual desire and function, sleep, and memory and learning.
That said, chocolate can help us both physically and mentally. So what’s not to love? Unfortunately, chocolate also has some draw backs to it.
But Watch Out
Don’t think this makes all chocolate worthy of mass consumption. First off, you’ll need to eat the dark stuff – 60 percent cocoa or higher, ideally. Otherwise, there won’t be enough actual chocolate to make a real effect. To some, including myself, this isn’t a problem. I actually prefer the dark stuff.
Secondly, like all sweets, you may have a crash. Chocolate may indeed give you that initial sugar high, but it can lead to a rebound that may worsen the initial bad mood you ate the scrumptious treat to alleviate. Try to eat your chocolate over a longer period of time to avoid a sharp rise and fall if this is something common for you.
Finally, chocolate also comes mainly from countries with labor practices are less than fair. Families don’t have electricity, and they must work long days to barely make ends meet. Truly, chocolate does have a dark side. Of course, many companies operate with fair trade standards, but the root of the problem remains.