Here's why chocolate can't be put in the same category as sweets
Andrea Burgener states her case
Why schools so often ask parents to exclude chocolate from lunch boxes, lumping all chocolate together with sweets, is a mystery to me.
I would understand if they banned lunch-box chocolate in summer months, to avoid schoolyards of children, teachers and bags smeared with brown goop, but that never seems to be the reason.
Lumping chocolate with sweets is like the silly nutritional pyramids that lump fruit and vegetables together. Plus, there's chocolate and then there's chocolate. Putting good chocolate - the heady, dark, not-too-sweet stuff - into the same bracket as a Mars bar or other brown sticky logs, is to compare apples with tractors.
These items are simply confectionaries loosely inspired by the idea of chocolate. They have their place in the pantheon of sweet processed comforters, but they absolutely are not chocolate.
The British Heart Foundation naysays benefits from chocolate, urging people to eat less simply because it's high in calories. This is, as research very clearly shows (and as many traditional diets have proved), not an issue to worry about in relation to weight gain.
Sadly or happily, our weight is so enormously determined by our hormonal/chemical state and by our genes, that calories are of almost no significance, except in the sense that if you took in no calories you would probably not be taking in any nutrition either. So that's no reason to avoid the stuff.
But as for the so-called massive benefits of the best stuff? The research on that really isn't clear, no matter what lifestyle mags tell you.
It may simply be that most of the health benefits chocolate eaters enjoy are caused by the release of feel-good chemicals (just as in the case of moderate alcohol drinking or anything which lowers cortisol and induces a state of happiness).
But claims that eating dark chocolate every day lowers the risk of heart disease by a third, as some sources report, should be taken with a bucket of salt.
No substance or medicine in the history of heart disease has been able to do that. There are only a few things about chocolate which you need to know for everyday life, if chocolate isn't your business.
The first is that real chocolate can definitely make dogs sick, or even kill them, so keep it away.
The second is that some of the best chocolate in the world is made locally by De Villiers chocolatiers, whose single-origin tasting packs are about the most perfect present I can imagine giving or receiving.
The price may seem high, but the flavours are so intense and satisfying, you'll only manage to eat a 10th of what's usually possible. It's available at Woolworths, and outshines all other chocolate offerings on the shelves.
• This article was originally published in The Times.
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