Chocolate is good and delicious, but how much is it recommended to eat and above all, does it make you fat? The expert answers these and other questions.
Greedy and highly delicious, chocolate is loved by everyone and its aromatic notes are hard to resist. Ideal as a snack to be enjoyed from time to time (a square is enough), it can also be appreciated in the form of hot chocolate, custard or in any sweet preparation.
In addition, in addition to satisfying the palate and the heart, this food also brings many benefits to our health. However, there are different types of chocolate and when it comes to the line, it is good to choose carefully the one that suits you.
With the help of Dr. Gloria Rossetto, Nutritionist Biologist, let’s go to the discovery of the properties and benefits of chocolate.
- Types of chocolate
- Nutritional components
- How much to eat?
- Does it make you fat?
Types of chocolate
“According to the law, the term chocolate defines” a product obtained from cocoa and sugar products that has a minimum content of total cocoa dry matter of 35%, of which not less than 18% cocoa butter and not less than 14 % of dry defatted cocoa “.
As we all know, there are different types, the most common are:
- White chocolate;
- milk chocolate;
- dark chocolate.
In white chocolate there is no cocoa, but only cocoa butter, milk and sugars in a high percentage.
Instead, in order to be defined as dark, chocolate must contain at least 43% cocoa and 28% cocoa butter. In the extra-dark one the minimum percentage of cocoa must be 75%, in the extra-bitter one the cocoa mass must be present in a percentage between 85% and 90%.
Chocolate owes its properties to the cocoa content, therefore it makes sense to refer to dark chocolate (better if extra). White and milk chocolate, due to the use of other ingredients, contain a much lower percentage of cocoa », explains the doctor.
“The cocoa bean is rich in components of nutritional interest such as:
- minerals (magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, potassium and iron are the most represented);
- vitamins (especially those of group B);
- amino acids (such as the serotonin precursor tryptophan);
- methylxanthines (theobromine and, to a lesser extent, caffeine);
- polyphenols, are abundant at the origin, even if the processing modifies their content and, consequently, the nutritional impact ».
By virtue of its rich nutritional component, chocolate is:
- an important energy source (a portion of about 30g provides an average of 160Kcal);
- provides antioxidants to the body;
- helps improve blood flow in the arteries;
- decreases the risk factors associated with the onset of heart disease.
Like all foods, however, it is important to consume chocolate in not excessive doses. To fully appreciate it and prevent the balance from going too far, it is better not to overdo it. Rather, it is preferable to include it in your diet taking into account the daily energy requirement and the lifestyle followed.
“The most recent research on the relationship between cocoa intake and derived products, well-being and health has focused precisely on the role of flavanols, molecules of plant origin also present in fruit, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, seeds, spices, aromatic herbs, tea, coffee. Various protective health effects are attributed to these molecules, linked to a significant reduction in the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases.
Specifically, cocoa flavanols are able to protect the elasticity and the vascular endothelial function in all districts, which influences the correct distribution of blood in the body. A property also recognized by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This protective effect is associated with the intake of high levels of cocoa flavanols.
The high content of fats and sugars makes chocolate a food with a high energy density.
Instead, the presence of nerve substances, whose intake has a tonic and stimulating effect on the nervous system, such as theobromine and caffeine, makes chocolate a food with energizing properties.
Although cocoa butter, a characteristic lipid of chocolate, is also composed largely of saturated fatty acids, this fat does not seem to have significant negative effects on the lipid profile (in particular on the “bad” cholesterol, or LDL), as the stearic acid, which represents about one third of cocoa lipids, is rapidly desaturated by the body in oleic acid », continues the expert.
How much to eat?
«According to our guidelines, the consumption of sweet foods, including chocolate, should be occasional, precisely because the high energy density that characterizes them can contribute to weight gain and the risk of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases.
Except for specific pathologies and disorders that impose a limitation in consumption, from some recent studies it would seem that the protective action of dark chocolate (especially for heart failure and type 2 diabetes mellitus) is linked to a daily intake of about 10 g, sufficient to exploit the benefits related to cocoa flavones, without the caloric impact being excessive. Clearly all in compliance with an overall varied and balanced diet », explains Dr. Rossetto.
Does it make you fat?
«No food in itself makes you fat. You get fat only if the energy inputs (represented by the food and drinks we take) are greater than the outputs (mainly represented by our resting metabolism and the physical activity we carry out).
Certainly there are foods that, due to greater energy density, are more likely to make us gain weight, but it all depends on the doses and frequency of consumption. So, no, chocolate in itself does not make you fat, it depends on how much we consume in relation to our general diet and our needs », concludes the expert.
In general, therefore, chocolate is a panacea for the well-being of the body as long as it is consumed in adequate doses.