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Bring on the Bunnies (1)

Dear Ellen, with Easter around the corner, I am worried about eating too many chocolate bunnies like every year…help!

The first chocolate eggs appeared in the 1800’s in Germany and France and were quickly followed by the rest of Europe. The rabbit was often used in spring celebrations as a sign of fertility due to their frequent births. In the 1960's this was established worldwide and today this tradition can lead to going off track on one of the sweetest weekends of the year. However, bunnies beware! The next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel overly guilty about it. Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, there are a number of health benefits associated with chocolate.

Bunny Benefits

Shape! Largely due to Flavanoids, chocolate consumption has been associated as beneficial to conditions including:

Health! The antioxidants in chocolate have proven to show multiple health benefits including: heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema and Parkinson’s disease.  

Stress! Studies have found that chocolate reduces stress.

Mood! Chocolate in our body stimulates the creation of serotonin and endorphins encouraging a "happy" feeling as well as a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction.

Craving Control! Research suggests that dark chocolate could reduce cravings as it is more filling than milk chocolate

Dental Health! Dark chocolate has been found to be effective at fighting tooth decay, cavities and plaque!

Lower BMI! Research results show people who eat chocolate frequently have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consume the treat less regularly.

Video: the benefits of chocolate

Bunny Weaknesses

High Calorie. Chocolate contains a large number of calories. 100 grams of dark chocolate averages about 550 calories often due to large amounts of butter, sugar and cream.

Tooth Decay. The high sugar content, especially in milk chocolate, can lead to tooth decay if over consumed.

Weight and Heart. The added sugar in chocolate has no nutritional value, which can cause weight gain and heart disease if overeaten.

Type 2 diabetes. Refined carbohydrates, like sugar sweetened chocolate, can cause spikes in blood sugar if overeaten, which may lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Caffeine. Too many caffeine-containing foods such as chocolate may cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, depression, restlessness or sleep problems. Dark chocolate contains more caffeine than milk chocolate.

Acne. Over-consumption of chocolate has been associated with acne.

Take-home message

Aim for balance and moderation in bunny and other Easter chocolate consumption since all of these weaknesses are only related to over-eating chocolate! Next week we will look at “one simple changes” to make the most of our bunnies!