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Can Chocolate Be Part of a Healthy, Balanced Diet?

By WLR's Food Information Assistant, Tim Sharp

Chocolate, seen as the enemy for those of us with weight loss goals, can be included in a healthy, balanced diet - here's how...

Research into Chocolate

Research, still ongoing, has pointed out that chocolate contains "catechins" which can help prevent cancers and heart disease. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of catechins - dark chocolate has 53.5mg of catechins per 100g, milk 15.9mg.

Some scepticism regarding the research into the health benefits of chocolate could be forgiven - Mars, US confectionary giant, has been pouring money for research to some of the world's leading Universities to try to prove that cocoa beans, the source of pure chocolate, contain enough of the good chemicals to help the heart stay healthy. The debate is complicated by how much pure cocoa bean is used to make the chocolate confectionary on offer; which also contains high levels of fat and sugar. 

Don't Deny Yourself Chocolate

Chocolate, in moderation, can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. If chocolate is one of your "favourite" foods, make allowances for it in your daily calorie quota. Totally denying yourself chocolate, can lead to bingeing and eating far too much of it. The feel good factor of a little chocolate has a positive psychological effect. 

"Try setting a few days during the week that you can have chocolate and go without it for a few days in between? Then you get to have maybe 1 bar 2- 3 times a week? At least then you will know that when you are craving it you will be able to have some the next day - so you won't feel totally deprived" -- Lou

Make An Allowance In Your Calorie Quota

Build chocolate treats into your daily / weekly calorie quota, and enjoy a guilt free treat. Make chocolate a reward for doing some extra activity - then you can doubly enjoy it, virtuous in the knowledge of how good you have been! 

Simple activities that will provide you with 100 extra calories*:

  • 15 mins Mowing Lawn
  • 20 mins Weeding Garden
  • 20 mins Walking (moderate)
  • 30 mins Hoovering / Dusting / Mopping Floors
  • 30 mins Cleaning Windows
  • 30 mins Car Washing (do inside the rims too!)
  • 30 mins Dancing around the house to favourite music

*Based on a 40 year old female of 5’5" tall who weighs 12st 7lb and is moderately sedentary.

Try Some Chocolate Alternatives

Chocolate is high in sugar and fat (not to mention calories!). When that chocolate craving hits, have some lower calorie "chocolate" substitutes to hand - such as low fat chocolate mousses, low calorie chocolate treats and hot chocolate drinks.

“I also like the fact that if I want a chocolate I can have one, I just need to either earn it, or give up something else. WLR doesn’t affect your social life!” -- Clare4756
"I'm a self confessed chocoholic ... I buy the Count On Us chocolate mousse from M&S. It's 80 cals and its absolutely lovely. It tastes like real mousse not those awful diet ones." -- Jaybar
"Double Chocolate Drink, Clipper Organic - it's a rich dark chocolate drink, very good taste but because it is sweetened with sugar rather than an artificial sweetener it leaves no icky aftertaste. It is more expensive for one sachet than the other double sachet ones are, but so much nicer. It also has more calories - 98 per mug - but for a good chocolate fix I think it is worth the calories." -- Mindy
"If you like coffee as well, M&S do some lovely dark chocolate covered coffee beans - they're heavenly and not too many calories." -- Hazel 

Look Out for Snack / Treat Size Bars

When only chocolate is good enough, you may find that a smaller snack or treat size bar will be enough to satisfy, without ruining your diet. Compare the calories of some popular one below:

Instead of    Try  
  kcal   kcal
Standard Mars Bar (58g) 260 Funsize Mars Bar  90
4 Finger Kit Kat  233 2 Finger Kit Kat  107
Standard Bar Cadbury's Dairy Milk (49g) 255 Treatsize Bar Cadbury's Dairy Milk (14g) 74
Standard Bar Fudge (25g) 115 Treatsize Bar Fudge (14g) 61
Single Bar Milky Way (26g) 118 Funsize Milky Way (17g) 77
Cadbury's Caramel Bar (47g) 225 Cadbury's Caramel Treat Size (18g) 85
Malteaster Bunny (29g) 157 Maltesers Funsize Bag (22g) 111

Chocolate Tips from Members

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