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At work, watching TV, after lunch – apparently unexpectedly we are seized with the uncontrollable desire for something sweet. Almost everyone likes sweet things: even babies like sweet things, because breast milk is sweet. So if you need to satisfy your desire for something sweet, a piece of chocolate is ideal.
Antioxidants and more – the health benefits
Did you know that chocolate contains ingredients that protect the body’s cells? The cocoa in chocolate contains what are known as phytochemicals. They have an antioxidant effect and can thus help protect the cells in your body. The darker the chocolate, e.g. plain chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, the more cocoa and thus antioxidants it contains.
Chocolate makes you feel good – in more ways than one!
If you feel down or you’re in a bad mood, does it feel like chocolate gives you a lift? You’re not far from the truth. The “feel good factor” in chocolate is the amino acid tryptophan, which is also a component of the “feel good hormone”serotonin. This hormone has an effect on the brain and can lift a person’s mood. So chocolate can, to some extent, sweeten a bad day. Take a bit of time to really savour this sweet treat. And remember: when it’s cold outside, a cup of hot chocolate can also help you to relax and brighten up the dark days of winter.
It’s all about the right amount
No food is inherently “good” or “bad”. Anyone eating an essentially varied and balanced diet can happily indulge in the odd sweet treat. The important thing is to keep an eye on quantities. Don’t allow your sweet tooth to take over and stick to small portions, e.g. mini bars of chocolate like KIT KAT. That will make it easier for you to keep your sugar intake in check. Are you eating a balanced diet as suggested by our Nutritional Pyramid? If you are, then there will always be a place for a sweet or indulgent treat. However, you should never obtain more than 10% of your daily energy intake from sugar that has been added to food. Such foods include drinks like cola, lemonade or iced tea, as well as sweets and snacks. Adults who consume an average of 2000kcal a day should therefore not be eating more than 50g of added sugar. Here is a short list of which foods contain how much sugar:
- 1 bar of milk chocolate (12g), 6g sugar
- 6 biscuits (30g), 7g sugar
- 10 fruit gums (20g), 8g sugar
- 1 glass of cola (250ml), 26g sugar
- 1 glass of lemonade (250ml), 25g sugar
- 1 glass of iced tea (250ml), 19g sugar
To enjoy chocolate to the full, try this little experiment: think about the piece of chocolate before enjoying it. Smell it. Now let the chocolate slide under your tongue and then over to the left and right cheek. Savour the taste. Allow the rest of it to melt slowly in your mouth. Did you enjoy it?