Chocolate really is the be-all-and-end-all of sweet treats, isn’t it? It is the perfect comfort food, and with Easter on the horizon (April 21st), you might find the whole family’s chocolate intake rising. We all know that it isn’t the healthiest treat around, and especially for kids, can cause some dental health problems. The high sugar content in chocolate is actually a major cause of tooth decay, and can result in needing fillings or crowns in the future.
But it’s not all bad news, as studies have found chocolate can also have some brilliant health benefits! In this post, we’ll take a look at both the good and the bad effects of this sweet treat in the run up to Easter, one of the most chocolate-filled weekends of the year!
The Reasons Why We Love Cocoa
So just why do we love this sugary treat so much? There are two obvious reasons and one that might surprise you.
It Tastes Delicious
The creamy taste of chocolate can be the perfect remedy after a hard day at work, or a tasty treat for kids as a reward. That’s not to say that adults can’t reward themselves with a bar, though!
Stress Relief & Rewards
Obviously, we love chocolate because of the way it tastes. We tend to eat chocolate because it makes us happy, but what if there was a scientific reason for it? Chemicals in the tasty treat include tryptophan, which is an important amino acid and stimulates the feel-good areas of the brain, triggering the production and release of serotonin, a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. This chemical is most commonly found in dark chocolate.
Unbeknown to some, eating chocolate can come with health benefits. For example, it can alleviate symptoms of a cough because of another chemical called theobromine, which calms the vagus nerve. This nerve carries messages from the central nervous system to the brain.
The Cons of Eating Chocolate
As much as chocolate tends to make people happy, it’s important to highlight both the potential and inevitable drawbacks to consuming the sugary treat on a regular basis.
The lowest number of calories you will find in a standard 25g bar of chocolate is approximately 110. The largest bar you can purchase at a supermarket is around 850g and by using the 110 calories per 25g equation, we can work out that this contains an astonishing 3,700 calories. The recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2,000 and 2,500 for men. What may start off as a tasty treat can turn into a health risk if it’s left unmoderated.
Obesity, Diabetes and Heart Failure
Using the calorie count as an example, combining a frequent intake of chocolate with minimal exercise or a lack of a balanced diet in general can lead to serious health complications including obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes and heart failure.
Feasting on chocolate and other sugary foods without brushing before bedtime just opens up the door for issues further down the line. Timing your treats is crucial, as you don’t want the plaque and preservatives to sit on your teeth for too long before brushing. This is what starts the tooth decay process, which can be painful and costly to fix down the line, as you may find yourself needing fillings or other dental treatments.
Don’t Let Oral Hygiene Rot
Regardless how you go about your chocolatey indulgences, it is imperative that you don’t let your oral and dental hygiene slip away. Brushing regularly and keeping your teeth clean is crucial in the battle against tooth decay and fillings.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to unhealthy foods and drinks, moderation is key. It wouldn’t be the crime of the century to treat yourself to a chocolate bar every now and then, but it’s the frequent intake which can lead to some of the issues listed above.
The best way to ensure you’re keeping your teeth healthy is to brush and visit the dentist regularly. At Parkfield Dental, we are accepting new patients in Didsbury and the surrounding areas, including Hale, Bowden, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Moor, Cheadle, Hulme and Gatley, and are always happy to give you advice about your general dental health. Contact us on 0161 327 0817, and see how we can help maintain your dental health, even if you’re a sucker for chocolate!