Articles on health effects of chocolate

Eating Chocolate Might Not Be as Bad as You Think

Dr. Tanoy Bose, Internal Medicine
Until the last decade, intake of chocolate was a strict no no for those who considered health, fitness & figure as the primary objective of living. Even among the vaster society chocolate had been used as a gift, reward or a dared act of deviation from healthy lifestyle. The chocolate faddists were stigmatized as unhealthy beings of the planet. But in recent times there have been confounding news about health benefits of chocolate that have put the stigmatized on the front row of health conscious social beings. Well, let’s try to decipher the facts here. After searching tones of research articles I found that all the researchers are concentrating on a particular chemical compound called FLAVONOIDS or POLYPHENOLS. Flavonoids are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, tea & wine which have excellent antioxidant property. Since last one decade researchers have noted that daily intake of adequate amount of flavonoids, be it in any form, reduces the risks of Obesity, Diabetes, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Attacks & equivalents) and most importantly Cancers and activity against the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV).Flavonoids like LUTEOLIN and KAEMPFEROL can be considered as promising candidate agents for treatment of gastric and ovarian cancers, respectively and APIGENIN, CHRYSIN, and LUTEOLIN have good perspectives as potent antitumor agents for cervical cancer.Sounds like a panacea, doesn’t it. Traditional chocolate derived from the cocoa bean, which is one of the most concentrated sources of flavonoids. That’s where the chocolate scores. Higher the cocoa content, greater the benefits. As the cocoa content of the chocolate increases the chocolate becomes darker. That brings us to the conclusion that, Darker the chocolate, Healthier the benefits.Current evidence from experimental studies in animals and humans along with findings from prospective studies indicates beneficial effects of green and black tea as well as cardiovascular health, and that tea and chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of stroke. The strongest evidence exists for beneficial effects of tea and cocoa on endothelial function (Walls of the blood vessels), total and LDL cholesterol (tea only), and insulin sensitivity (cocoa only).There have been many observational studies to date that have reported a positive correlation between the consumption of dietary flavonoids, including flavanols, and a reduced risk for Cardiovascular Disease. Interestingly, there is also epidemiological evidence to support that the regular consumption of cocoa-containing foods may confer similar cardio protective benefits The Kuna Indians, an indigenous population in Panama, have been shown to have a very low incidence of age-related hypertension and have a low rate of Cardiovascular disease mortality This much lower prevalence of hypertension and related CVD mortality has been suggested to be related to their regular consumption of a cocoa rich in CF.Introduction of regular intake of flavonoids in form of low fat , fortified dark chocolate bars is being intensely evaluated in national nutritional program of many countries.

Chocolate Might Have Additional Benefits for Teenagers

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you are a teenager, then you might be excited to hear this. Studies have shown that chocolate consumption in teenagers might lead to lower levels of body fat.It showed that adolescents who consumed higher amounts of chocolate had lower body fats levels, compared to adolescents who abstained from chocolate.A study conducted at the University of Granada in Spain revealed the effects of chocolate consumption on teenagers and found a distinct link between chocolate consumption and low body fat.The study analyzed records of 1,458 teenagers who were between the ages of 12 and 17. It asked them to complete computer-based questionnaires that asked them to recall what they had eaten during the previous 24 hours or 2 non-consecutive days. The subjects of the study hailed from nine different European countries and the data set is considered to be especially broad.The conclusions of the study indicated that higher chocolate intake amongest European teenagers was linked with lower levels of total fat and fat around their waist. What made these conclusions especially interesting was that exercise had little to no impact on the results. Results were assessed based on the participants' Body Mass Index, waist circumference, body fat measures and activity levels.One of the reasons for low body fat levels is that chocolates contain good fats or monounsaturated fats (oleic acid), which reduce the absorption of sugar in the blood stream. That prevents the sudden spike in the body’s insulin level and Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated–either chronically or after a meal– it accumulates fat in the adipose tissues. When insulin levels fall, we release fat and oxidize it for fuel. This is the way chocolate might be working for teenagers.Not just that, chocolate even contains flavonoids, which are polyphenolic compounds that have various biochemical and antioxidant properties. Flavonoids prevent the cells from the oxidative changes caused by the free radicals. These radicals are normally formed in the body by the process of breathing and from normal environmental contaminants like cigarette smoking. An increase in their production can cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, which forms plaque on the artery walls and may lead to cardiovascular diseases.Chocolates even have an anti-inflammatory affect because they increase the growth of good microbes in the intestine which reduces inflammation. But like every other health food which is processed with sugar, chocolate too should be consumed in control. Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times a week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.

Good News for Chocolate Lovers

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Cocoa comes from the seed of the Theobroma cacao tree. Chocolate/Cocoa has become one of the most popular food flavors in the world. It is probably the most recognized flavor globally. There are a variety of chocolates available in the market with varying levels of cocoa, sugar, and other flavors and foods. But researchers have seen more benefits from chocolate with a higher concentration of cocoa, or what we even call dark chocolates. The basic ingredients in dark chocolate bars are cacao beans, sugar, an emulsifier such as soy lecithin to preserve texture, and flavorings such as vanilla. Dark chocolate is often distinguished by the percentage of cocoa solids in the bar. The cocoa content of commercial dark chocolate bars can range from 30% (sweet dark) to 70%, 75%, or even above 80% for extremely dark bars.It's said that dark chocolate can be good for your heart and researchers have discovered why. It may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis - thickening and hardening of the arteries - by restoring flexibility of the arteries and preventing white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessel walls. Also, Louisiana State University researchers tested cocoa powders in a model of the digestive tract and found that certain bacteria in the stomach eat dark chocolate, ferment it and then release anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit the heart.According to Maria Moore, an undergraduate student and one of the study authors. “We found that there are two kinds of microbes in the gut: the good ones and the bad ones. The good microbes, such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feast on chocolate,” Moore said in the news release. "When you eat dark chocolate, they grow and ferment it, producing compounds that are anti-inflammatory." Study leader John Finley, a professor in LSU's department of food science, said, "When these compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke." As it is clear from what the researchers said, that dark chocolates are healthy but one should always have it in small portions. Add a piece of dark chocolate if you have a sugar craving. Remember one piece will never harm you but eating any food (healthy or not) in excess can trigger health problems.

Smoking Effects on Teeth and Oral Cavity

Dr. Swasti Jain, Dentist
It is widely known that smoking can have a great number of adverse effects on the health of the smoker. Due to the nature by which the action of smoking is performed, it is only natural that oral health would be one of the areas most negatively affected by the act. It is very important, therefore, that a smoker take extra care of his/her mouth and teeth. There are ways in which a smoker can help to keep the damages of smoking from doing further harm through proper oral care.Oral Health Problems Caused By SmokingAmong the most common oral problems, smokers are at an increased risk for gum disease. Smokers are four times more likely of developing this problem than non-smokers.Due to the excess of harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, smokers are twice more likely to suffer tooth loss than non-smokers.Smokers are at a higher risk for developing leukoplakia, leading to throat, lung, and oral cancers. It can cause the salivary glands to become inflamed and contribute to deterioration of bone structure. Smokers also have a harder time recovering from dental procedures such as periodontal treatments, dental implants, and tooth extraction. Smokers are at a greater risk of developing dry socket from tooth extraction procedures. When dry socket occurs, the patient experiences severe pain in the affected area due to the bone and nerve endings being exposed.In addition to these medical ailments, smoking can also cause vanity issues impacting the teeth and mouth. Due to an increased and steady buildup of plaque and tarter, the teeth of a smoker are less attractive in appearance. Smoking also stains the teeth and can cause bad breath. In some smokers, the tongue can develop a condition known as black hairy tongue, due to a growth that may grow as a result of tobacco use. The condition causes the tongue to become yellow, green, black, or brown, and give the appearance of being hairy. Smokers may also lose the sensation of taste and smell.Dental Hygiene Tips to Improve Oral HealthWhile quitting smoking is the most effective way to ensure better oral healthHaving a proper oral hygiene plan is extremely important for smokers. Smokers should be brushing, flossing, and using a tongue cleaner and mouthwash on a regular basis, at least twice daily. By staying on top of regular dentist visits, smokers can also benefit from professional cleanings.People who smoke should also check for recurrent bleeding in the mouth, lesions, swelling, and lumps. White, red, or dark patches on the inside of the mouth, under the tongue, and on the cheeks that last more than two weeks should be brought to the attention of a dentist. Lumps on the lips and gums can also indicate a more serious problem, as should numbness or pain in any part of the mouth.

How to Enjoy the Chocolate Cake and Stay Slim?!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Be it birthdays or anniversaries, nothing says congratulations better than a chocolate cake. Everyone loves it and it gets gobbled up as soon as the first cut is initiated. It is not hard to finish off as much as is served to you or even more if luck favours it.The only feeling which overtakes the ecstatic bliss is the guilt of gluttony. You wake up in the middle of the night worried that you will not be able to fit into your favourite dress!We are not inferring that you give up your sumptuous chocolate cake as it will result in unfavourable outcomes later on but that once you have indulged in it what can be done to make it a guilt free experience? The simple universal answer to this query is to burn off the extra calories consumed so that it does not cause any changes in your body!Read to know more about small changes to get good body. We will now begin to give you an idea of how to go about burning your chocolate cake calories. Chocolate cakes can really vary in their calorific value, depending on how they’re made. They are usually loaded with oil/butter and sugar and all the chocolaty goodness. So, we’ll take a simple chocolate cake with some icing and cream - the standard birthday cake. One slice of this cake has a calorific value of 200-400 calories. Now, don’t go and eat a whole Mississippi mud pie and assume it was one serving. We’re talking just one slice of chocolate cake. No ice cream included. Also, a slice is very subjective. Let’s take a cake piece that’s 250 calories. Say you land up eating 2 pieces of cake. That’s 500 calories. Burning up 100 calories is no big deal - a 1 mile run will take care of it. But 500 calories, now that’s a bit of a task. Read and implement ways to burn 100 calories in 20 minutes.To burn 500 calories, you need to do either of the following: Row for 55 minutes Run for 5 milesBox for 45 minutes One hour intense aerobics class.Next time you want guilt free gluttony, just workout enough to compensate for the extra calorie intake and you should be good to fit into any of your regular clothes without a worry line on your head.

Healthiest Chocolate Biscuits in India

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Kids and adults are both fans on chocolate biscuits! But are they good for health? As we’ve told you before, biscuits are not a diet food, but if you can’t stop eating them, then you should know which chocolate biscuit is the healthiest? Which biscuit have dangerous trans fats? And which choco chip biscuit has the lowest calories?Get more information on Is your daily biscuit intake making you fat.We’ve done a nutritional analysis of the leading chocolate biscuits in the market- Britannia Good Day Chocolate Chip, Parle Hide and Seek, Britannia Bonbon, Sunfeast Tasty Choco cream. One of India’s oldest chocolate biscuits, the Britannia Bonbon came out with the highest sugar content at 39 gm of sugar per 100 gms of biscuit. This was 25% more sugar calories than the others, that were all around 31 gm of sugar. The lowest calorie count came out to be Britannia Good Day Chocolate Chip. Per 100 gms of biscuits, it came in at 461 calories. This was slightly lower than the other that ranged from 470 to 480 calories, per 100 gm of weight. The protein content in all the biscuits was all around 6 gm of protein per 100 gms. Clearly, biscuits are not exactly a protein source :) The fat content in all these ranged between 15-19 gms. The lowest was Sunfeast Tasty Choco Cream at 15.4 gm of fat, but this one had trans fats! Clearly, we don’t recommend this one. Trans fats are harmful fatty acids. Many cities and countries have banned the use in food (not India). They are created by hydrogenation of vegetable oil used in food processing and production. Last but not the least, we always consider ingredients. Parle Hide and Seek came out on top in this one. All the biscuits used Wheat Flour as their first ingredient.The second ingredient was sugar for most, except Parle Hide and Seek that used chocolate chips :) Our top choices are Britannia Good Day Chocolate Chip for their lowest calorie count, and Parle Hide and Seek for the taste as well as their ingredients, since they used more chocolate chips than others as part of the ingredient list. Britannia Bonbon was 3rd, and Sunfeast was at the bottom of our list since it contains trans fats! Read about healthiest chocolate and know the healthiest among dark, white and milk chocolate. Below is the nutritional information for all the 4 chocolate biscuits for India:1.Britannia Good Day Chocolate Chip: 461 calories, 68.5 carbs (32 sugar), 5.7 gm protein, 18.3 gmIngredients: wheat flour, sugar, chocolate chips (14.5%), edible veg oil.2.Parle Hide and Seek: 481 calories, 73 gm carbs (32 gm sugar), 5.7 gm protein, 18.5 gmIngredients: wheat flour, chocolate chips (27%), sugar, edible veg oil. 3.Britannia Bonbon: 470 calories, 69 gm carbs (39 gm sugar), 5.8 protein, fat 19 gmIngredients: Wheat flour, sugar (36%), edible vegetable oil, milk solids, starch, cocoa solids. 4.Sunfeast Tasty Choco cream: 470 calories, 6.1 protein, 76.7 gm carbs (31 sugar), 15.4 gm fat (trans fats)Ingredients: Wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, hydrogenated vegetable oils.

Healthiest Chocolate in India

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
We all love chocolate, but do you know-Which is the healthiest chocolate? Which is the lowest calorie chocolate? Which chocolate has the highest fat? which is the highest calorie chocolate?There we go doing analysis of the popular chocolate bars and has all the answers for you. So, which are the popular ones that we considered: Kit KatMarsSnickersCadbury Dairy Milk5 StarMunchTwix and GemsNutritional AnalysisAs a standard, all these chocolates have sugar as first ingredient. Most of them have another form of carbohydrate or fat as the second ingredient as a second ingredient.Snickers had peanuts as its second ingredient! (We really liked that) Understand why order of ingredient listing matters!The standard favourite of all kids- Cadbury Dairy Milk came out with the highest fat content at 29 gm of fat, per 100 gm of chocolate.Snickers had the lowest carbohydrates. So, if you’re watching your diet intake of carbs, Snickers is your best choice. It had a high fat content from its peanut content. And we all know how nuts are good for health.One of the biggest surprises was that Kitkat uses hydrogenated vegetable oils. As a result, Kitkat contains trans fatty acids! Note that Gems, Munch and 5 Star also uses hydrogenated vegetable fat. Normally that leads to trans fatty acids, but Gems did not list the details of fat content.The lowest calorie chocolate and lowest fat content was Gems surprisingly, at 390 calories and 13.4 gm of fat.Read about chocolate health benefits and know the healthiest among dark, white and milk chocolate. Regardless of which chocolate you eat, they’ve all got lots of sugar and fat, so it's best to share your chocolate. Win favours and avoid the extra calories!Below is the nutritional information for leading 4 chocolates in India:Kitkat: 486 calories6.5 gm protein60 gm carbohydrates24.5 gm fat 23.5 gm saturated fat0.5 unsaturated fatty acids0.5 gm trans fatty acids192 mg calciumIngredients: sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, milk solids, wheat flour, cocoa solids.Mars: 455 calories4.3 gm protein68.5 gm carbohydrates (sugar 62 gm)18 gm fat (saturated fat 8 gm)1 gm fiberIngredients: sugar, glucose syrup, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, vegetable fat (palm oil), cocoa mass, skim milk powder, whey powderSnickers: 506 calories9.5 gm protein55.4 gm carbohydrates27.4 gm fat Ingredients: Sugar, peanuts, glucose syrup, skim milk powder, vegetable fat, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, whey powderCadbury Dairy Milk: 529.7 calories10.2 gm protein59.7 gm carbohydrates (sugar 56.5 gm)29 gm fat Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, cocoa solids.Munch: 480 calories5.9 gm protein64.6 gm carbs (sugar 27.5 gms)21.5 gmtrans fatty acids: 0.1 gmcalcium 106 mgIngredients: sugar, wheat flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, milk solids, cocoa solidsTwix: 492 calories4.8 gm protein64.0 carbs24.1 gms fat Ingredients: sugar, glucose syrup, wheat flour, vegetable fat, skim milk powder, cocoa butterGems: 390 calories4.8 gm protein64.4 gm carbs (60.1 gm sugar)13.4 gm fat Ingredients: Sugar, milk solids, hydrogenated vegetable fat, cocoa solidsNote: All weights and nutritional analysis is per 100 gms of each product.So, best choice of the healthiest chocolate is– Snickers! Even with a high calorie content, we liked that it had the lowest carbohydrate content, and that it contained lots of peanuts! Quality of ingredients is always a key factor.

How to Enjoy the Chocolate Cake and Stay Slim!

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Be it birthdays or anniversaries, nothing says congratulations better than a chocolate cake. Everyone loves it and it gets gobbled up as soon as the first cut is initiated. It is not hard to finish off as much as is served to you or even more if luck favours it.The only feeling which overtakes the ecstatic bliss is the guilt of gluttony. You wake up in the middle of the night worried that you will not be able to fit into your favourite dress!We are not inferring that you give up your sumptuous chocolate cake as it will result in unfavourable outcomes later on but that once you have indulged in it what can be done to make it a guilt free experience? The simple universal answer to this query is to burn off the extra calories consumed so that it does not cause any changes in your body!We will now begin to give you an idea of how to go about burning your chocolate cake calories. Chocolate cakes can really vary in their calorific value, depending on how they're made. They are usually loaded with oil/butter and sugar and all the chocolaty goodness. So, we'll take a simple chocolate cake with some icing and cream- the standard birthday cake. One slice of this cake has a calorific value of 200-400 calories. Now, don't go and eat a whole Mississippi mud pie and assume it was one serving. We're talking just one slice of chocolate cake. No ice cream included. Also, a slice is very subjective.Let’s take a cake piece that's 250 calories. Say you land up eating 2 pieces of cake. That's 500 calories. Burning up 100 calories is no big deal- a 1 mile run will take care of it. But 500 calories, now that's a bit of a task. To burn 500 calories, you need to do either of the following:Row for 55 minutesRun for 5 milesBox for 45 minutes.One hour intense aerobics class.Next time you want guilt free gluttony, just workout enough to compensate for the extra calorie intake and you should be good to fit into any of your regular clothes without a worry line on your head.