Easter chocolate – is it all bad?

This weekend is Easter and whether you celebrate it traditionally or otherwise, there is usually some chocolate involved! So, this week’s Shapers Top Tips is all about the good and the bad of chocolate. That way we can all make informed choices over the next few days.

For a change I am going to start with the pros of chocolate as I think we all deserve a little treat after this lock down! Of all the chocolates you can chose please try and chose dark chocolate as it has more cacao in it and less sugars. It is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium and a few other minerals too.

  • Dark chocolate contains lots of antioxidants, these that can help the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure by widening arteries which promotes healthy blood flow.
  • Flavonoids found in cocoa products have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting effects that can improve insulin sensitivity.
  • The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.
  • There is even some evidence that points towards dark chocolate helping to protect your skin from the sun. Although sunscreen is a much better bet!
  • A study on rats even supported that it helps to prevent memory decline in adults via the micronutrients called flavanols in it.

However, what we all sadly know is that chocolate is usually linked to an increase in BMI and all the potential medical risks that come associated with that, including: type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

A small 130g Cadbury’s chocolate egg contains about 537 calories. The NHS recommends a daily calorie intake limit of 2000 calories for a woman, so this is about a quarter of all you could eat all day! The Easter Egg also contains a 31.9g bag of mini eggs of which 22g is sugars – an extra 158 calories. Watch those packets – they tend to say how many calories per serving (usually 25g), not per egg!

The best way to still enjoy easter is to be mindful of calorie intake via quantity and also the other risks such as damage to teeth or being sick due to consumption, especially in children.

Why not try?

  • Using part of the Easter egg as a dessert after a meal? It will make the eggs last longer and also avoid the massive overindulgence of eating them all at once
  • Restrict the number of eggs given – ask relatives to give a present in another form that your children will love.
  • Brush teeth more often than usual this weekend.
  • Swap fizzy drinks or juice for water to reduce the sugar left on teeth, aid digestion and increase satiety.
  • Exercise – increasing your activity levels will help to offset the additional calorie intake, so it’s time for an extra-long family walk or one up a hill!

So to end back on a positive note; a little treat is never a bad thing because it always cheers us up and our mental well being is key right now. Chose good quality chocolate and I hope you have a wonderful Easter and look forward to seeing you all on the 12th of April when we reopen!

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