What is the downside of eating chocolates

Chocolate: unhealthy or good for the heart?

One bar of chocolate a day and your heart stays healthy - I'm sure you'll be happy to hear a statement like this. In fact, scientists have tested this relationship in studies. Participants had to eat 100 grams of chocolate every day. The researchers observed the effects on the heart and circulation and were enthusiastic: In their opinion, the risk of dangerous cardiovascular diseases decreased significantly.

But can a bar of chocolate every day really be healthy? Our expert says: No! There is too much sugar and fat in the candy. "100 grams of milk chocolate contain around 530 kilocalories," says Professor Wolfram Delius, a cardiologist from Munich. This already covers around a quarter of your daily energy requirement of around 2000 kilocalories *. The German Heart Foundation writes: One tablet in addition to the normal diet and you will weigh one kilogram more after two weeks.

The healthy thing about cocoa

But why is this sweet delicacy even touted as beneficial to health? So-called flavanols occur in cocoa, which make the blood vessels more elastic and have a slight blood pressure lowering effect. Flavanols are one of the secondary plant substances and in laboratory tests they expand the blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure - but the effect is comparatively small.

Most flavanols are found in dark chocolate. Because it contains at least around 60 percent cocoa mass. There are now varieties that consist of up to 90 percent cocoa. There is less of it in milk chocolate - manufacturers can speak of milk chocolate from as little as 25 percent cocoa content. White chocolate is free from cocoa; it only contains cocoa butter - the fat of the cocoa bean.

Info: How is cocoa made?

Cocoa is obtained from the cocoa tree that grows in the tropics. The fruits contain numerous seeds - the cocoa beans. If they ferment, the seeds turn brown-purple. Then they are roasted, which creates the dark brown color and aromas. After the roasting process, the cocoa beans are ground. Chocolate can be made from the resulting cocoa mass together with other ingredients. Food companies can also process the mass into cocoa powder. To do this, they remove part of the cocoa butter - they de-oil the cocoa.

Flavanols are not only found in abundance in cocoa. It also contains large amounts of magnesium, iron and calcium. Beta-carotene as well as vitamins E, B1, B2 and niacin also occur. There is also caffeine in cocoa, but much less than in coffee.

Small amounts of chocolate are allowed

Studies suggest that even small amounts of dark chocolate can have positive effects on blood pressure. With a small amount, researchers mean seven to 20 grams - if anything, that is a rib, not a whole bar. The experts don't treat chocolate lovers to anything else - too many calories, too much sugar and fat.

In addition, cadmium can be found in cocoa. The substance can damage the kidneys and is even considered carcinogenic. Cadmium occurs naturally in the earth's crust and enters the body through cigarette smoke and various foods, for example. "Fine cocoa varieties from South America in particular can contain a relatively large amount of cadmium," says Dr. Gisela Olias from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich. The reason: the cocoa plants grow there on volcanic soils, which are naturally rich in cadmium. Mandatory cadmium limit values ​​for chocolate products have been in effect in the EU since January 2019. However, they are geared towards a rather moderate chocolate consumption. Experts therefore recommend: Only enjoy chocolate - especially dark varieties - in moderation.

Conclusion: You can treat yourself to one or two pieces of chocolate if you feel like something sweet. Whether you are doing something good for your heart remains unclear for the time being. "Whether the long-term consumption of chocolate really prevents the development of cardiovascular diseases has not been scientifically proven," explains Delius.

* The stated energy requirement is an average value for an adult with less physical activity. The exact need depends on age, gender and physical activity

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