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National Women's Health Week


It's National Women’s Health Week – 10th to 16th May 2015

LADIES -  Is Chocolate Really That Bad For You ? – Let’s look at the pros and cons.

History shows that drinking chocolate can be traced back to the Aztecs, who used the cocoa bean as currency and also drank chocolate as a sweetened drink, which they believed improved energy, boosted wisdom and helped with sex drive.

Modern chocolate uses cocoa paste with added ingredients such as sugar, cream, milk, and other flavourings.

What are the Pros ?

Antioxidant protection

Antioxidants are chemicals which help to reduce the harm of other chemical reactions that happen during the metabolism of pollutants.  They are policing and sorting out the bad guys.  Researchers have discovered that 40g of chocolate can provide 300mg of polyphenols.  Dark chocolate takes it further, by providing double the polyphenols.  As a comparison, this is the same amount as in a cup of green tea.  Also, the polyphenols are the heavy weights, in that they are bursting with flavonoids known as oligomers which are super protective and have been associated with helping reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

The British Medical Journal has suggested that there is evidence that eating 100g of dark chocolate daily may help to lower blood pressure enough so that it contributes to a 21% reduction in the risk of a heart attack.

Feeling Good ?

It’s not just the texture that people love about chocolate, it has chemical components which can alter your mood.  Serotonin boosts mood and phenylethylamine can give a confidence boost.  So these mood enhancing factors do give chocolate it’s addictive nature. 

The Cons


Eating chocolate every day will undoubtedly increase your shopping bill. The BMJ researchers estimated it would cost £3 per week, but that spending more for a premium brand of dark chocolate might be rewarded by improved quality of life.


100g contains:  

Milk chocolate  520 kcals / 220mg calcium
Dark chocolate  510 kcals / 33mg calcium, 89mg magnesium
White chocolate  529 kcals.

Pendulum swing in blood sugars

It is common knowledge that the sugars and or sweeteners in chocolate effect blood sugars, this rise and fall in energy will lead to eating more calories, which is contributing to the increase in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

Dark chocolate is marginally lower in calories, but its glycaemic effect is less, which is why people are encouraged to eat it.  Also there are now low carbohydrate chocolates with sweeteners which do not effect blood sugars.

Pendulum swing in Mood

Changes in blood sugars effects our mood by changing our levels of endorphins. Cravings have been linked to this change and is therefore connected to pre-menstrual tension.
The chicken and egg cycle of hormones effecting blood sugars and sugars effecting hormones is seen during the menstrual cycle:

High sugar chocolate eaten = Change in Endorphins = change in mood = craving = eating more.

This cycle can be seen in the form of mood swings/binge eating/and even addiction.  As we eat more chocolate because of the above cycle, the endorphin effect reduces so we crave and eat more to get the effect.

Tooth decay?

The sugars in chocolate, along with poor dental hygiene will contribute to tooth decay.

What does the Consultant Nutritionist suggest?

I don’t feel the pros should mean a green light for people to go and eat lots of chocolate.  However, I do feel that if you eat it occasionally, and moderately, and choose a good quality dark chocolate then it’s perfectly acceptable.

Moderation is the key to any food group, it goes without saying that a little of what you fancy does you good, so lady’s buy small, don’t binge to avoid desensitising too its effects, and savour the moment. 

Victoria Shorland, Nutritionist and Allergy Consultant, Bariatric Nutritionist.

Lucy Guthrie


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