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Health

Harmful effects of Chocolate

Despite a number of positive effects and health benefits of dark chocolate, many experts are increasingly insisting more research is required before overindulging on this sugary treat. Chocolate contains hefty quantities of sugar, cream and butter, which can affect a normal diet. Anyone relying on the occasional piece of chocolate to ease stress or feed a craving should be fine. However, eating too much chocolate can bring adverse health issues.

Weight Gain and Heart Disease

A bar of milk chocolate that contains around 1.5 ounce or 44 grams has 235 calories, 220 grams of sugar and 12 grams of fat, most of which is saturated fat. 1 ounce of dark chocolate, which is 28.3 grams, has 154 calories, 13 grams of sugar and 9 grams of fat, including 5 of saturated fat. The issue with saturated fat is that it significantly increases blood cholesterol levels, and puts one at risk for heart stroke and related problems.

The excess sugar contained in chocolate offers no nutritional value, which can lead to weight gain and risk of heart disease, as stated by the American Heart Association. Anyone who is going to indulge in chocolate, Alice Lichtenstein from Tufts University suggests avoiding taking other treats for the rest of the day or walking extra 30 minutes to offset the extra calories consumed.

Diabetes and Cavities

A milk chocolate bar usually contains 25 grams of carbs and an ounce of dark chocolate contains 16 grams, most of which is from refined carbs or sugars. Refined carbs can cause sharp fluctuations in the blood sugar levels, which can make the body intolerant to insulin over time and may result in Type 2 diabetes. The extra sugar can also cause tooth decay and cavities.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

This is a condition in which the contents in stomach move back up into esophagus, causing heartburn. Chocolate causes the esophageal sphincter to relax and enables the contents in stomach to reverse back upward, causing that burning feeling behind the chest. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse strongly suggests avoiding chocolate to help manage GERD.

Caffeine Effects

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and this is why a chocolate piece may give a little boost when the day feels like dragging, but caffeine actually contains no nutritional value. According to Medline Plus, too many caffeine-rich foods such as chocolate may also cause increased heart rate, depression, anxiety, restlessness, tremors, sleeping issues, nausea and vomiting. Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate, and both are full of theobromine, a substance very similar to caffeine.

High Sugar Levels

Eating milk chocolate in high amounts causes a high intake of refined sugars. There are no nutrients in sugars and it is high in calories, and might further lead to gain in weight and other illnesses like diabetes. Refined sugars boost the release of insulin in the body, which in turn fluctuates the levels of blood glucose. After eating foods with high sugar content, energy levels shoot, leaving one craving more sugar. This may lead to high caloric intake and impinge on moods and energy levels.

Link with Acne

Although chocolate doesn’t directly lead to acne, the skin condition can occur from the diet. A diet that includes high intake of dairy items and carbs might raise the risk of acne. Candy bars and chocolate products that contain milk are a considerable source of carbs.

Types of Chocolate

Having a higher cocoa content is a good thing in chocolates. Cocoa includes flavonoids that are essentially antioxidants with added features like helping to restore cells, along with providing other minerals such as potassium and calcium. Flavonoids can also help in maintaining the cholesterol and blood pressure.

White chocolate does not contain cocoa, and it’s high in sugar and fat, so hardly offers any health benefit. Dark chocolate has more cocoa content than milk chocolate. It is suggested to check the label of chocolate products and choose ones containing at least 65% cocoa. An ounce of dark chocolate once a day can be included as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Tom Brendon

Tom Brendon has completed his nutrition undergrad in the UK and received his Master's degree from Canada in health education and specializes in human health and pediatrics. He began his career as a writer for Nutritionline in 2014 and Authority Health in 2016. He has considerable research experience and currently writes nutrition and health articles for general readership. He enjoys outdoor activities, snowboarding and spending quality time with family and friends.

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