The most controversial chocolate myths

Is chocolate good or bad? There is no single answer to this question. Maybe because we are constantly looking for the answer not where it really is hiding. And if you do not disassemble chocolate into components, but study its effect on the body as a whole, it turns out that the properties of this delicacy are much more diverse than it seems. On International Chocolate Day, MedAboutMe finds out which myths are not really myths, and why.

The high cholesterol myth

There are two polar opinions about how chocolate affects cholesterol. Some argue that it increases, others that it decreases. Both sides are right to some extent. Indeed, chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is a quarter of saturated carboxylic acids. But one third it includes stearic acid, which does not affect the level of cholesterol in the body, and another third – oleic acid, which is monounsaturated and leads to a decrease in cholesterol. Ultimately, the fatty acids in chocolate do not significantly affect cholesterol. 

In fact, there is another group of compounds in chocolate – flavonoids (plant polyphenols), which are antioxidants. They are also found in fruits, vegetables, and red wine. One 100-gram bar of milk chocolate contains almost 1 g of flavonoids , dark chocolate – almost 2 times more.

Flavonoids inhibit oxidative processes in blood plasma, and thereby slow down the formation of atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of blood vessels. That is, judging by the work of flavonoids , chocolate even lowers cholesterol levels. True, also on a rather limited scale. Upon closer examination, it turns out that only in microscopic quantities and only in people from the group at increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. And it should be consumed in small quantities. And if you get carried away with chocolate beyond all norms, then the harm will be higher than the benefit.

And by the way, if instead of cocoa butter in chocolate to use various substitutes (rapeseed, palm, soy, and so on. P.), Then for sure you can talk about its dangers, because these oils contain trans fats , which contribute to increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. 

The hyperactivity myth

One of the most popular “chocolate horror stories” in the “ mum’s ” environment is hyperactivity in a child against the background of love for chocolate. This myth seems to have been denied more than once, but it continues to occupy the minds of young parents.

It is believed that chocolate is sweet. Since it is sweet, it means sugar. Since sugar means hyperactivity . Scientists conducted a test: parents were told that their children were given a drink of sweet water, and asked to rate the degree of hyperactivity in their behavior. The parents immediately saw the effects of sugar and reported that their children were indeed inappropriate. The secret was that there was no sugar in the drink at all. That is, the vision of hyperactivity was found exclusively in the minds of adults. A dozen different experiments on this topic also did not confirm the connection between sugar and hyperactivity in children.  

Among the explanations for why kids get so excited about eating a bar of chocolate, the simplest is celebration. It is during the holidays that children most often get the opportunity to fully enjoy sweets. And the festive atmosphere in itself predisposes to violent behavior.  

The diabetes and chocolate myth

It is believed that diabetes and chocolate are not compatible. But in reality, chocolate is different. For example, if it contains more than 60% cocoa, that is, we are talking about dark chocolate, then its glycemic index will be only 25 units – just like cherries, sweet cherries, grapefruit or lentils. This means that the consumption of such chocolate does not cause a sharp rise in blood glucose levels.  

What’s more, a number of studies have shown that dark chocolate increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin – also thanks to flavonoids . In addition, against the background of an increased level of flavonoids , the amount of adiponectin in the blood increases – this substance is involved in the processes of glucose regulation. Overall, eating dark chocolate lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes.

The caffeine myth

It is believed that chocolate is just a storehouse of caffeine. In fact, there is not so much of it there. A 100 g bar of milk chocolate contains only 20 mg of caffeine, while a black bar contains 40 mg. For comparison: in one cup of coffee with a volume of 200 ml – at least 80 mg of caffeine, and if we are talking about brewed coffee, then several times more, 200 or more mg.

Since there is little caffeine in chocolate, does it mean that all the stories about its cognitive-stimulating effect are also a myth? No. Because it contains the flavonoids we have already mentioned . Studies show that a cup of cocoa or a bar of chocolate after a sleepless night almost completely compensates for the cognitive impairment caused by lack of sleep. And this is precisely because of the flavonoids . They improve blood flow to the brain and, in particular, to the hippocampus , which is involved in memory. So if you want to keep a clear mind and a solid memory, drink cocoa rather than coffee.

Non-myths about the dangers of chocolate

There are no perfect products. So, despite its benefits, chocolate is not the most harmless sweetness.

  • The caffeine, theophylline and theobromine found in cocoa beans are alkaloids. With regular use (about 1 g per day), they form a real “chocolate” addiction, very reminiscent of alcoholism or drug addiction. Love for chocolate, within reason, does not threaten with shock – the volumes are not the same. But if you lean on chocolates properly, problems are not far off.

The human body rapidly processes theobromine. And “our smaller brothers” – dogs, cats, parrots, horses – do not possess such abilities. Therefore, it is toxic to them and can lead to the death of the animal. So don’t try to share a treat with your dog or cat – you don’t need a lot of chocolate to kill them.

  • Of course, chocolate is high in calories. That very dark, such healthy chocolate hides 550 kcal in its 100 g. Dairy – only slightly less – 535 kcal. Do not forget to take into account the “chocolate” calories when calculating the total daily calorie intake, if you want to keep your weight within normal limits.
  • As with the use of any sweet product, in the process of eating chocolate, an environment ideal for carious bacteria is formed in the mouth. So, at the end of this pleasant process, brushing is a must.

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