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Friday, September 22, 2023

The Truth About Chocolate: Busting Chocolate Myths

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Whether you enjoy chocolate on ice cream, chocolate cake, chocolate truffles or a hot mug of cocoa, there’s no denying that chocolate is an indulgence for most people. But this indulgence comes at a price. After all, isn’t chocolate unhealthy, fattening and just overall harmful to our health? Not entirely. New research shows that chocolate can actually be part of a healthy diet.

It’s time to bust and melt those myths. Here are 5 most common myths about chocolate.

Myth: Dark chocolate contains fewer calories than milk chocolate.

A lot of people think that dark chocolate is the best to go for because they contain fewer calories than milk chocolate. The truth is dark chocolate and milk chocolate contains roughly the same amount of calories as shown in the table below.

Brand Dark chocolate (calories/1 bar) milk chocolate (calories/1 bar)
Hershey’s 180 210
Cadbury’s 210 200
Valor 210 250

Whatever your preference is, proper portioning is the key to calorie control. Try to limit yourself to one mini bar or just a square of chocolate from a chocolate bar. But if you do end up eating an entire bar, try not to reach out for the next one.

Myth: Chocolate is fattening.

This statement is both true and false. It all depends on how much chocolate you eat. If you eat a large chocolate bar on top of your daily caloric intake, then this can certainly contribute to a significant weight gain. However, if you eat chocolate as a part of a nutritious and well-balanced diet and you engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes a day, eating chocolate as a treat won’t make you fat.

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Myth: Chocolate causes acne.

This topic has been the subject of debates in the scientific community for many years. For instance, A 2011 study presented at a national conference of the American Academy of Dermatology showed a direct correlation between acne prevalence and chocolates. The double blind experiment involved 14 male participants aged between 18 and 35 with a history of acne who were randomly given capsules containing either 100% cocoa powder or gelatin. After the experiment, researchers found that the test subjects’ acne is proportionate to the amount of chocolate they’ve eaten. Nevertheless, further experiments are needed to see if this will hold true in a larger group, including women.

Acne is actually caused by multiple factors, including age, family history and possibly stress levels. Recent research seems to suggest that diet may also play a role in aggravating acne.

A paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reviewed 50 years’ worth of studies that link acne with diet, in general, not just chocolates. Some of The study revealed that dairy and foods loaded with sugar or with a high glycemic index can aggravate acne and at times, trigger it, too. Additional research is required to understand how this is happening.

Our skin is a reflection of our health. The best way to avoid acne or clear your skin is to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet, one that is full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.

Myth: Diabetics can’t eat chocolate.

This myth is outdated. Indeed, chocolates contain carbohydrates that when broken down can quickly elevate blood sugar levels. However, if you have good blood glucose control and you’re not consuming too many carbohydrates in one sitting, then there’s no reason why diabetics shouldn’t enjoy chocolates as an occasional treat.

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Myth: Chocolates cause migraine.

There are a few foods that are said to trigger a migraine. Caffeine, cheese, alcohol and chocolate are identified as migraine triggers. However, a recent study published in the journal Neurology reveals that migraine sufferers may not be sensitive to these triggers after all.

Unlike most studies where researchers asked migraine sufferers what conditions or experience preceded a headache, 27 patients were exposed to flashing lights, asked to perform intense exercise or a combination of both in a laboratory. The objective was to induce a migraine with aura, a type of headache that comes with incapacitating visual disturbances.

After their sessions, only 11%–Or just three patients–reported having migraine with auras, while another 11% reported migraines without auras. Research author Dr. Jes Olesen of the University of Copenhagen and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology said that what have been reported as sure triggers of migraine become indefinite when people are actually exposed to them.

Correlating this to food triggers, Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein, director of the Jefferson Headache Institute and who wrote an editorial for the study suggests that what people might think as triggers are actually symptoms of a migraine instead. For instance, if you eat chocolate and this results to a headache, the first symptom of the migraine attack may have been the desire to eat chocolate.

Both Olesen and Silberstein also think that several factors will still determine if a suspected trigger would actually lead to an attack. These include pain threshold, environment factors and even the brain’s vulnerability to a particular trigger as it varies from day to day. People’s beliefs may also influence how they experience migraine. Similar to a placebo effect, if you’re convinced that a certain food might give you a headache, chances are you might really develop one.

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Silberstein suggests not to overdo trigger avoidance. To help you find out what causes your migraine, don’t avoid a trigger just because you think it will give you one. Keep a food diary to help you determine what sets it off.

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