Chocolate originates from cocoa beans from the Theobroma cocoa tree. The beans are fermented, ground and separated to cocoa butter and powder.
Cocoa has been used for many used as a medical aid. It is rich in flavonoids which have potent antioxidant functions. These include being :
Helping blood vessels to dilate so helping reduce blood pressure.
Increasing insulin sensitivity
Decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis.
Positive affect on cholesterol: increase HDL (the good guys) and decrease LDL oxidation.
A reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
However we don’t eat cocoa on its own. Milk chocolate has a variety of other ingredients added in. It is high in energy, free sugars and saturated fat. One point to note here is that not all chocolate is equal. The darker the chocolate (higher % cocoa) the higher the flavanol content and the less sugar. White chocolate is not actually chocolate as it doesn’t contain any cocoa powder or cocoa solids but cocoa butter mixed with milk and sugar. The chocolate in eggs can be of a lower quality with lower flavanols and mineral content so watch out! Check the cocoa solids.
An easy way to remember a portion of chocolate is “the size of your index finger”. That is about 2 squares for a child and 4 squares for an adult.
So chocolate is something that can definitely be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. The key is thinking about the quality of the chocolate you are having and the portion size. Space that chocolate out and enjoy it, rather than gorging on it all in one go. Savour it and eat it mindfully,
So snacking, it’s one of those things I definitely do. I tend to eat my 3 meals and at least 2 snacks a day. Which means my snacks need to be healthy, well most of them! Currently I am breastfeeding which makes me quite hungry at times. It is those moments when I have children clamouring for me, a baby wanting to feed and I know I need to eat that I need a ready to grab and go snack. That moment when it could be biscuits. Although I do eat my share of those too, I’ve recently discovered a wheat free dark chocolate and stem ginger cookie… dangerously nice. So to keep me on the straight and narrow I’ve started making snack boxes. This is something I often recommed to clients and many find them so useful. You can literally make a pile up for the week and take one to work each day, keep them in your bag or just on the worktop if you are at home.
Here are some of my favourite combos:
Here is me trying out Facebook Live and showing off my not so great phone video skills:
Love to hear your healthy snack box combos. Leave me a message/comment so I can steal your ideas too 😉
I tend to buy my nuts and dried fruit in bulk online (it is cheaper per kg but costs a bit up front) and I store a supply in the cupboard and a supply in glass jars on my shelf. Which looks pretty and also means we all see them and are more likely to eat them instead of reaching into the biscuit tin.
“Keep healthy food – In plain sight so it is in your mind to eat it”
A good example of this is my toddler boy who often asks for “prawns” and points at the jars… he means prunes!
Freelance Dietitian specialising in helping those with Eating Disorders and a Media Spokesperson for the profession.