Still Think of Chocolate As Health Food?

This isn’t exactly news because it came to light several years ago, but chocolate isn’t the health food it was proclaimed to be, say, 5 or so years ago.

Yet people still seem to think it is – so they eat it and tell themselves it’s good for them.

Why they do that? Well, they like it; it’s easy to like.

Chocolate also feels like an easy answer to various problems because it’s a mood changer. The mood-changing chemicals include theobromine (similar to caffeine) and phenylethylamine (likened to the feeling of being in love). It also triggers endorphins (beta-endorphin) and serotonin, two brain chemicals associated with mood.

Were You Caught in the Chocolate Trap?

I was not, and here’s why.

Chocolate – even 70-plus percent dark chocolate – contains sugar, and I’m fiercely anti-sugar. In fact, I’ve been anti-sugar for well over 25 years, long before anyone was talking about its negative effects on health or its addictive properties.

A few clients have called me The Sugar Nazi. What can I say? I wear the label proudly.

When health gurus were pushing chocolate, I was against it because I was certain the drawbacks of the sugar in chocolate would override any benefits we were then hearing about cacao itself.

What the Chocolate Story Turned Out to Be

Basically, it’s an unsurprising story. Chocolate manufacturers and the cocoa industry funded scientific studies to “prove” the benefits of chocolate. One company, Mars, maker of Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Way and many other candies, actually funded hundreds of such studies.

It doesn’t feel worth it to me to hash through the alleged benefits of chocolate, but here’s a partial list. It was said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, enhance weight loss, decrease risk of diabetes, stroke, atrial fibrillation and heart failure, as well as alleviate immune disorders.

Gee, will it make my brown eyes blue, too?

Claims like these keep springing up even in current articles – and are still affecting the eating behaviors of my colleagues in the fitness industry.

My recommendation is to forgo chocolate because of the sugar. If you must consume cocoa or cacao, make sure it’s unsweetened. Problems with sugar affect health, appetite, food preferences, mood disorders, hormones, brain chemistry, and a lot more.

Sugar’s negative effects can’t be overstated. Chocolate can’t and won’t override those.

Rebecca R. Ammons

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