Chocolate gluttony at Easter: how much is healthy and when does it become a concern

Easter time is a sweet time. In the week before Easter, Germans buy more sweets than in any other week of the year. Unbeatable in first place: the chocolate Easter bunny. According to the Federal Association of the German Confectionery Industry (BDSI), more than 200 million of these are produced annually in this country alone, and not just because of their pretty looks. Due to its incomparable taste, chocolate has always been one of the most popular luxury foods. Whether young or old, hardly anyone can resist sweets.

chocolate makes happy

This is in no way reprehensible, after all, food scientists have extracted those ingredients from the cocoa bean that give luxury food its incomparably special aroma. Only the interaction of several different chemical compounds leads to the exceptionally intense flavor of good chocolate.

Also, the sugar it contains stimulates the reward system in the brain and sends out happy hormones. The messenger substance dopamine has been shown to trigger a feeling of well-being in the body and lead to the desire to feel that way again, so strictly speaking, we can’t help but make chocolate taste so good.

It sounds dangerous, but it really isn’t, because unlike drugs, chocolate isn’t addictive in the long run. Only the lack of self-control can fall victim to the temptation of the popular candy. But is it really that bad sometimes? How much chocolate a day is still acceptable? And how does it affect our body?

Cocoa: a true superfood

First the positives: it turns out that regular consumption of chocolate can even bring health benefits. The flavanols contained in cocoa, the so-called phytochemicals, can make blood vessels more elastic and therefore have a slight antihypertensive effect.

However, the following applies here: the darker the chocolate, the better. The cocoa content of dark chocolate is best chosen with at least 60 percent cocoa mass and contains the highest amount of flavanols. White chocolate, on the other hand, does not contain cocoa, it only contains cocoa butter – the fat of the cocoa bean – and sugar. In addition to flavanols, cocoa is rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamins E, B1, B2, and niacin.

Unfortunately, the health benefits of cocoa don’t give us a free ticket to unlimited snacking. After all, conventional chocolate is mostly made up of sugar, and in the long run, this not only makes us fat, it also makes us sick.

the sugar problem

First of all: sugar per se is not “bad”. However, consumed in excessive amounts, it can cause overweight and obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and joint diseases.

According to a study by the German Nutrition Society (DGE), the German Obesity Society (DAG) and the German Diabetes Society, the direct costs of diseases secondary to excessive and frequent intake of sugar exceed 8.6 billion euros per year , reports the “Ärztezeitung”.

The three specialized societies also consider that the status of the scientific study on the negative effects of excessive sugar consumption is sufficient to recommend specific maximum limits for daily sugar consumption: no more than ten percent of the daily caloric requirement of 2000 should be consumed kilocalories in the form of sugar: that’s the equivalent of a maximum of 50 grams of total sugar. This amount alone is in an average chocolate bar, or an average chocolate Easter bunny.

The problem: 50 grams includes not only homemade sugar, like that found in chocolate or gummy bears, but also sugar from fruits, fruit nectars, or fruit juices of any kind. The daily requirement is quickly exceeded: by 40 percent for adults, and even for children and young people by an astonishing 75 percent. Too much sugar can cause a lot of damage to the body: tooth decay, hair loss, skin diseases, apathy, tiredness or nervousness are just some of the consequences of a permanently high dose of sugar.

How much (Easter) chocolate can that be?

As in many other areas, the guiding principle also applies to chocolate: the dose makes the poison. Since chocolate is very calorie dense but lacks important vitamins, minerals and fiber, it shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet this Easter either.

But even if you go overboard during the holidays, it’s not a drama either, as long as it’s an exception. Chocolate craving only becomes problematic when it occurs in excess every day. Then it is time for radical abstinence and a review with the family doctor.

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