Chocolate is the new black

Posted by on 30 August, 2011

Despite dire warnings by every health organization under the sun that our obesity levels are killing us, it seems that chocolate is the new black, with a comprehensive literature review published in the British Medical Journal giving it the thumbs up as a preventer of heart disease. This is no joke... people who consumed most chocolate over a total of 7 studies had 37% less strokes and heart disease than those who ate the least.

And we're not just talking about your slightly blah dark chocolate. The scientists threw in reports of chowing down on choc chip cookies, Freddo frogs, hot chocoalte and pretty much anything chocolatey you can think of that has hitherto been labelled as bad for you. Collective cheering explodes from multitudes of premenstrual women everywhere as their one-time guilty hidden pleasure can come out of the closet and be placed on the shelf next to the vitamin pills and green tea bags!

The Heart Foundation reacted with horror attempting to put our excitement back in the box declaring chocolate to be high in sugar and saturated fats and an altogether unsavoury snack. Pardon the pun!

So what's the JD with chocolate? At the risk of invoking the ire of my role models at the Heart Foundation, I think we'd be foolish to dismiss the BMJ's editorial team and their pooled analysis of 7 studies quite that quickly. We know chocolate (or more specifically cocoa) contains a wonderful array of antioxidants which travel around the body like fairy godmothers tapping nasty damage-causing free radicals and neutering them. We also know chocolate consumption seems to be linked to less diabetes and blood pressure.

But I don't think that's the full story. I'm no nutritionist but I suspect that the 500,000 odd steps between picking a cocoa bean and producing a choc chip muffin might lose a little of that antioxidant superpower along the way. My theory is this; lightening up!

Have you read 'Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality' by Glenn Ellenbogen? It's actually about mental health but the name is brilliant isn't it? My favourite book title ever ….and don't I know a few people with exactly that problem? I am constantly supprounded by health zealots who want to wage holy Jihad against sugar, coffee, alcohol, carbs, non-organic vegetables, aritifical colours and all other sources of enjoyment. No that's a bit of an exaggeration but guys,,,,, LIGHTEN UP!!! If you drink a couple of wines now and then you're unlikely to die an unatural death. Coffee is actually good for you and all the other stuff is fine in moderation.

Maybe the chocolate lovers' win is their willingness to just relax and not take their diet too seriously all the time? And now we know the odd Caramello Koala could sit on your hips but put a smile in your heart!