Chocolate & its myths: FOR THOSE WHO CAN ONLY RESIST TEMPTATION
Chocolate is proven to be rich in magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper in addition to polyphenols. Dark chocolate is considered to be a heart attack preventer, stress reliever, brain stimulator, and acts as an anticancer. A Harvard study showed that people who eat chocolate live longer than those who don’t.
On average, the German eats over eleven kilos of chocolate a year – maybe one or the other is already addicted …? We will now do away with this myth, among other things. An expert from the Environment & Nutrition editorial team answers the most important questions about our beloved chocolate!
Which is healthier – dark or whole milk?
Yes, you have to answer this question clearly in favor of dark chocolate, at least if the cocoa content is 70 percent or more. Because then the sugar content is logically significantly lower and the blood sugar level rises more slowly. And: the feeling of pleasure is satisfied faster. So real food cravings, in which two or three bars are consumed at once, are rare with dark chocolate – this is more of a phenomenon with whole milk chocolate.
However – this also has to be mentioned – the dark chocolate variant has only slightly fewer calories than the one with whole milk. This is because the fat content in cocoa is quite high. But if you don’t eat that much of it, that’s not a problem either.
In addition: Cocoa itself contains many phytochemicals, including antioxidants that protect against so-called free radicals. And the flavanols have a positive effect on the heart and circulation by having a slight antihypertensive effect. Due to the much higher cocoa content in dark chocolate, these substances are of course contained in significantly larger quantities than in whole milk variants – this also makes them healthier.
Chocolate is especially popular because it’s so sweet. Does pure cocoa taste sweet too?
No not at all. Anyone who has ever bought pure cocoa powder to make hot chocolate knows this. A lot of sugar has to be added to make it taste good. Cocoa, i.e. what is made from the beans, is actually not a children’s drink at all, without sugar it tastes quite bitter and bitter, similar to coffee.
Enjoyed in its pure form, it is even invigorating. With the Aztecs, for example, cocoa was something valuable that only the wealthy could afford and they drank it with chilli or pepper, vanilla and a little honey. Back then it was considered a true power drink, but it doesn’t have much in common with what we know as cocoa.
Also in Europe, where the brown powder then went in the 16./17. Found its way in the 19th century, it was initially only a drink for the upper class. However, more and more sugar and vanilla were added to it, which made it more and more similar to the drink we drink today.
By the way: for a long time you could only drink cocoa. The first edible chocolate made from cocoa powder, cocoa butter and lots of sugar did not come onto the market in England until 1848. And that was – roughly – what we still understand by chocolate today.
Can Chocolate Really Be Addicting?
No, it cannot, at least when one speaks of addiction in the classic sense. There is no physical dependence on chocolate, so no one who – for whatever reason – wants or has to do without it will therefore get withdrawal symptoms. But he may be very unhappy because one thing has also been proven: chocolate lifts the mood. Because whenever we eat things that are very fatty or very sugary – and chocolate is both – endorphins are released and they make us happy. That’s why eating chocolate always helps, regardless of whether you are lovesick, stuck in the stress of exams, or are already relaxed and want to stay that way. Researchers speak of behavioral addiction in this context – you eat chocolate to sweeten your life in the truest sense of the word.
So: Chocolate makes life more beautiful and in many situations, it is not easy to do without it, but it is not really addicting!
Cocoa cultivation continues to fall into disrepute because children work there time and again, sometimes under duress. Is that still a problem?
Unfortunately yes. You have to know: the cocoa tree is quite sensitive and needs a lot of care. And if everything goes well, only half a kilo of raw cocoa can be made from the cocoa beans of an entire tree. And for a whole kilo, i.e. the yield from two trees, the farmer only receives an average of one euro. This favors child labor and it is still widespread – even if many chocolate producers like to downplay it.
According to several studies, more than two million children work on cocoa plantations in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which are the main cultivation areas. Many of them also work there in very dangerous areas such as slash-and-burn operations or spraying pesticides.
In fact, the chocolate manufacturers had already contractually agreed in 2001 that children would be allowed up to 2008.