Browsing through my copy of the Metro this morning, my attention was grabbed by a headline stating ‘Chocolate is as good for you as fruit. Er, sort of’ and was intrigued to read on…
The article says that research from the Hershey Centre for Health and Nutrition claims that chocolate contains more healthy plant compounds, gram for gram, than fruit juice. Their research showed that both dark chocolate and cocoa contained more antioxidants and flavenols than fruit.
Flavenols are a type of antioxidant thought to help combat heart disease and cancer by neutralising the effects of free radicals and pollutants on the body.
These findings led the researchers to conclude that chocolate is as good for you as fruit. However there are a few problems with this research – firstly, it was conducted by the chocolate company Hershey’s, so I’m sure they would love to promote the idea of chocolate being a healthy food rather than junk food. Secondly, the article fails to specify what type of chocolate is the healthiest – I’m pretty sure fatty milk chocolate full of sugar is not going to be as healthy as fruit!
It has long been known that cocoa and dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, but there are still huge differences between the nutrition provided in chocolate as opposed to an apple, for example.
The main difference is the types of sugar in the two snacks; chocolate is full of fat and refined sugars which will lead to a spike in blood sugars before crashing down not long after, leaving people feeling tired and hungry. An apple, meanwhile, has a lower GI and only provides natural sugars from fructose so will not cause the rapid rise and fall in your blood sugars. The apple will also be full of fibre, not to mention significantly fewer calories than the chocolate!
While eating a couple of squares of good quality, high cocoa mass dark chocolate may be a healthy sweet treat occasionally, I am in no doubt that chocolate as a whole is not as good for you as fruit!
What do you think?