The truth about chocolate

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It is one of the nation’s favourite foods, but what is the truth about chocolate when it comes to healthy eating and a balanced diet? 

We have pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject to help you make informed choices. 

Is chocolate healthy? 

One of the main ingredients in chocolate is cocoa beans, which contain naturally occurring polyphenols. 

These are micronutrients which naturally occur in plants — and which are claimed to have health benefits.

But experts seem to agree there is not enough evidence for the positive benefits of cocoa beans making up for the high sugar and saturated fat in most chocolate.

This can contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

We’re not going to tell you to stop eating chocolate all together. But if you’re after an alternative source for your polyphenols (we’re sure that’s a common Google search!) beans, pulses, fruit and vegetables are all healthier sources of them.

But what about dark chocolate? 

Dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids and cocoa butter than milk, so it must be more healthy, right? 

Actually, it depends how the chocolate is processed. Some methods of processing can almost completely remove polyphenols from the dark chocolate. 

Why does it give me an energy boost? 

Many of us like to nibble a bit of chocolate (dark, milk or white) for a little pick-me-up.  

Chocolate does contain a small amount of caffeine, and this may be noticeable — particularly in dark chocolate. 

But any energy boost felt after eating it is more likely to be from the sugar, particularly in milk or white chocolate. 

It is healthier to have a snack which provides sustained energy release — like a piece of toast, fruit or a small bowl of low-sugar cereal. 

Is chocolate addictive? 

Despite containing a small amount of caffeine, there is no evidence that chocolate is physically addictive.

However, people can get into the habit of snacking on certain foods — or comfort eating as an emotional response to negative feelings. We might feel we need it as a reward or emotional crutch.

Becoming aware of this kind of behaviour is key to making healthy changes. This is where we come in! As we said, we’re not here to tell you to stop eating chocolate. But we can help you make small, healthy, changes — which will make a big difference over time.

Sign up now for our support to get into healthier habits.

01 July, 2024