Bad effects of chocolate Chapter One — Introduction to the Problem Introduction to the Problem In today’s society, chocolate is everywhere. It seems that people have developed a love-hate relationship with chocolate. According to the US Department of Commerce, the average American ate 11. 7 pounds of chocolate in the year 2000. American adults ranked chocolate as the most-craved food and as their favorite flavor by a three-to-one margin. Throughout the world exists a society of chocolate lovers. While Americans consume an average of nearly 12 pounds of chocolate per year, we are not the biggest fans.
The British eat 16 pounds each and the Swiss, inventors of milk chocolate, consume the most yearly at 22 pounds per person. However, while people love it, they can’t help feeling a pang of guilt when eating it because over the years, chocolate has gotten a “bad rap” as being an unhealthy food. However, recent research is slowly unraveling the hidden truth about chocolate that it might actually be beneficial to a balanced diet.
Despite its name, a typical “milk” chocolate bar provides less than 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of calcium.
But, surprisingly, a government survey shows that chocolate and products containing chocolate make substantial contributions to our daily intake of copper, an essential mineral in the prevention of anemia and, possibly, heart disease and cancer. Chocolate also provides significant amounts of magnesium, which plays a role in regulating blood pressure and building bones. Statement of the Problem Research that portrays chocolate as a healthy food may encourage chocoholics to toss aside their feelings of guilt and indulge to their heart’s content.
After all, research shows that chocolate is good for the heart. However, many agencies, such as the British Heart Foundation, are arguing that advising people to eat chocolate regularly is a reckless message that should be ignored. A more accurate message would be, according to the British Heart Foundation, to “enjoy a little chocolate in moderation, but ensure you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily to get all the flavonoids you need without the added fat. ” (Steinberg) For example, esearch has shown that high amounts of flavonoids, which are found in chocolate, may also positively affect mechanisms involved in the maintenance of cardiovascular health. However, this information does not mean that large amounts of chocolate in the diet are going to prevent heart disease. The purpose of this study is to show that chocolate can be taken off the “guilty foods” list and added to the list of foods that are a part of a healthy diet. But it is important to also show the damaging effects of eating chocolate, which may be downplayed by the newest research promoting chocolate.
Research Questions How can chocolate be beneficial to a balanced diet? In what ways can chocolate be harmful to the body? How has chocolate been used and abused throughout history? Significance of the Study While initial research on the benefits of chocolate is encouraging, it is obvious that large-scale, controlled human studies are missing and more research is needed. Chocolate was long believed to be a source of saturated fats, a type of fat that can have negative effects on overall health.
More recently however, a number of studies have identified the fat in chocolate as being stearic acid, a type of fat that the body converts through a series of biochemical changes, into oleic acid, which does not have the same deleterious effects. The problem lies with the type of chocolate. Rich, dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content is a potential source of antioxidants, but what makes up the remaining 30%? Also, it appears that many studies that have been performed have been minimal and their results have been somewhat misleading.
It is important to examine the facts and the result of the research to come to a conclusion about whether chocolate is good, bad or both. Definition of Terms Acne: an inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of the skin that is marked by the eruption of pimples or pustules, especially on the face. Anandamide: a messenger molecule that plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory , and fertility. Antioxidants: a substance, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, or beta carotene, thought to protect body cells from the damaging effects of oxidation.
Calories: a unit of energy-producing potential equal to this amount of heat that is contained in food and released upon oxidation by the body. Catechins: a crystalline substance, C15H14O6, derived from catechu and used in tanning and dyeing. Chocoholic: a person who craves chocolate. Cholesterol: a white crystalline substance, C27H45OH, found in animal tissues and various foods, that is normally synthesized by the liver and is important as a constituent of cell membranes and a precursor to steroid hormones.
Its level in the bloodstream can influence the pathogenesis of certain conditions, such as the development of atherosclerotic plaque and coronary artery disease. Conching: a flavor developing process that kneads the chocolate. Depression: a psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Fats: macronutrients which are essential to life and provide a useful source of energy while insulating the body and its organs against the cold.
They also build and maintain body tissue while assisting in the transport of fat-soluble vitamins throughout the body. Flavanoids: a grouping of micro-nutrients are 12 classes that individually total over 20,000. One plant or herb may contain hundreds of flavonoids. The more well researched flavonoid classes are flavones, flavonols, isoflavones, quercetin, anthocyanidins, and catechins. Flavonoids therefore make up the largest group of anti-oxidants. Hyperactive: highly or excessively active.
Magnesium: a light, silvery-white, moderately hard metallic element that in ribbon or powder form burns with a brilliant white flame. It is used in structural alloys, pyrotechnics, flash photography, and incendiary bombs. Nutrient: any substance that provides essential nourishment for the maintenance of life. Obesity: the condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat. Oleic Acid: an oily liquid, C17H33COOH, occurring in animal and vegetable oils and used in making soap.
Palmitic Acid: a fatty acid, C15H31COOH, occurring in many natural oils and fats and used in making soaps. Phenylethlamine: a chemical that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. Chapter Two — Review of Related Literature and Research Review of Related Literature and Research Despite the fact that chocolate has gotten a bad rap over the years, many studies show that, in many ways, it is a healthy food. Particularly over the past decade, scientists, professors, nutritionists and researchers have completed projects that show that chocolate can be good for people.
Studies on chocolate are varied and each one gives a different reason for the popularity of the food. One conclusion is that this food holds benefits for humans in several different ways. Health wise chocolate has components that help fight heart disease. It also has the ability to make people happier and gives a boost of energy. All of the studies prove that chocolate is unlike any other sweet. The reasons for these differences are not yet completely understood. However each study is helpful in understanding the science of chocolate.
Today, the benefits of eating chocolate outweigh any negative effects of the food, but there are still so many gray areas surrounding the research. A team of scientists has disproved the theory that if something tastes good, it must be bad. The book, Chocolate and Cocoa: A Review of Health and Nutrition, which was commissioned by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and produced in cooperation with the International Cocoa Research Foundation (ICREF), the educational foundation of the American Cocoa Research Institute (ACRI), discusses the latest research on the potential benefits of chocolate and cocoa. ethodology There are several factors that were taken into consideration when designing the methodology for the study. It is important to address the history of chocolate, the making of chocolate, the positive and negative effects of chocolate, who loves chocolate and why, and the nature of studies on chocolate. By examining these things, the truth about chocolate unfolds. Chapter Four — Results and Findings Results and Findings Chocolate has been praised for its nutritional and psychological values for centuries.
World War II soldiers took advantage of its high nutritional content and shelf stability, while athletes and astronauts use it for its high fat and carbohydrate contents, which are known to boost energy levels. A 15 oz bar of milk chocolate provides 9% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium, 3% for iron, 6% for protein, 9% for riboflavin, 1. 9% for thiamin and 2. 4% for vitamin A. Chocolate is also particularly rich in magnesium, and has a high calorie content due to its considerable contents of fat and sugar.
Surveys and reports say that cravings for chocolate have been observed in approximately 40 percent of women and 15 percent of men. Many females report that their cravings occur mostly during the start of menstruation. Additional reports show that chocolate is used as a self-medication for depression syndromes, which indicates a physiological basis for cravings influenced by hormone levels and mood. More than half of chocolate cravers say that there is no substitute for their craving for chocolate and women with PMS claim that they increase consumption of chocolate during this time.
This shows that there are carbohydrate and bioactive agents in chocolate. Magnesium has also been shown to contribute to chocolate cravings since cravings for chocolate have been reduced by magnesium supplements. In addition to the many nutritional benefits of chocolate, the fat and carbohydrate ingredients of chocolate add to its sweetness and texture. These sensory properties provide consumers of chocolate products with comforting qualities. It is apparent that the high fat content of chocolate provides energy and satisfactory feelings, while the high sugar content improves energy and feelings of happiness.
Reports of increased brain tryptophan levels and serotonin synthesis with carbohydrate consumption may account for enhanced feelings of well being, as well. Chocolate is limited in its use as a functional food due to its high sugar and fat contents; however, cocoa contains the functional constituents of chocolate with no sugar and very little fat. Since cocoa is already used as a colorant and flavouring, it is already licensed for use as a food additive and does not require expensive food safety trials, unlike other potential functional ingredients.
Cocoa is currently under investigation for potential functional properties as an antioxidant, while in the highly developed Japanese functional food market, chocolate products are already being marketed for their antioxidative properties. It is possible that, in the future, cocoa and chocolate may once again be regarded as medicinal products rather than luxury foods, and chocolate products may be consumed for their health-promoting as well as comforting properties. It should be noted that an improvement in cardiac risk factors does not automatically translate into a reduction in heart-disease risk.
By analogy, even though taking estrogen reduces serum cholesterol levels, it does not reduce the risk of having a heart attack. In addition, the theoretical benefits of eating chocolate must be balanced with the potential risks. Most chocolate products are high in fat, sugar, and calories, and consuming excessive amounts of chocolate could promote obesity, which might actually increase the risk of heart disease. Chocolate contains a number of different chemicals that can affect the brain and nervous system.
In addition to relatively large amounts of theobromine (a compound similar to caffeine), chocolate contains phenylethylamine (which has actions similar to those of amphetamines) and a recently discovered molecule called anandamide (which binds to the same site in the brain as does the active ingredient in marijuana). The effects of these compounds on human health are not entirely clear; however, chocolate does appear to be a “mind-altering” food, with potentially negative implications for some people. In addition, chocolate can be addicting, as the many people who crave it will attest.
Chapter Five — Conclusions, Implications and Recommendations Conclusions, Implications, and Recommendations Although research and information on health benefits of chocolate is surfacing, it’s important to remember that chocolate is at the tip of the food guide pyramid along with fats, oils and sweets. When we eat too many calories and fat, we gain weight, which increases risk for heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, obesity and other diseases. Eating a chocolate bar will not necessarily make you fat, but chocolate treats should be balanced ith other food choices throughout the day. So have your chocolate and eat it too. While there are definite positive and negative effects associated with chocolate consumption, the researchers who conducted the study believe that chocolate is a useful addition to the diet. While the research as to whether or not chocolate should be used to treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions is still somewhat inconclusive, chocolate may be helpful in many situations. Chocolate’s bad reputation comes from the many myths surrounding it. Edmondson) Despite popular belief, chocolate doesn’t cause or worsen acne. Neither does it cause dental decay. In fact, chocolate has certain properties that work against sugar’s natural tendency to produce the oral bacteria that leads to decay. People are also afraid of chocolate’s caffeine content but it is surprising to know that while coffee has 130-150 mg of caffeine, chocolate only has 6 mg per ounce. Throughout history, chocolate has provided many benefits to many groups of people but still gained a bad reputation as an unhealthy food.
The Spaniards considered chocolate to be an aphrodisiac and the Europeans used it for medicinal purposes. Today, efforts are being made to disprove the myth that chocolate contains a magical ingredient, instead attributing the pleasant feelings associated with chocolate to a psychological association with the texture. Studies have proven that chocolate stimulates the brain to release natural “painkillers. ” (Young) Many research projects have uncovered a variety of conclusions regarding the positive effects of chocolate, ranging from benefits of the heart to psychological treatment.
Whatever the reason, the short-term effect of chocolate is undisputed. And researchers are chipping away at chocolate’s bad reputation as a junk food with their continued findings. One of the most important studies showed that chocolate’s source of saturated fat was stearic acid, which does not raise cholesterol levels. Perhaps if the Food and Drug Administration reclassified stearic acid as less harmful, the nutritional value of chocolate would rise. It is important to recognize that many of the studies discussed in this paper are incomplete or meager.
Many others, especially those sponsored by chocolate companies, can be misleading and leave a lot of significant information out. For example, while research stresses that chocolate contains polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties, this cannot be a reason to label chocolate as a health food. Higher antioxidant benefits can be reached by eating fruit and vegetables, which also provide more vitamins and nutrients. The majority of studies finding health value in chocolate are funded by chocolate manufacturing companies, such as Hershey’s and Nestle.
This trend is likely to continue because biased sources generally contribute the most money because of the possibilities of personal gain. For this reason, it is extremely important that the process of peer review and scientific scrutiny be followed carefully. Still, while we wait for updated research, there are many known facts about chocolate that should take away the guilty feelings associated with it. Chocolate is nutritious and this makes chocolate a must for ration packs in the army, for trampers/hikers, mountain climbers.
Chocolate contains protein, fat, carbohydrate, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, carotene, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, and folate. Milk chocolate contains a higher percentage of these than dark chocolate but it does depend on the levels of cacao solids and the brand of chocolate analyzed. It is easy to see why chocolate is an energy food and can be beneficial to the diet when eaten in moderation. (USDA) Chocolate is often called natures’ Prozac. Its brain pleasing qualities are provided by its sugars, fats, PEA, theobromine, magnesium.
It is possible that more brain pleasing ingredients have yet to be discovered. If taken in moderation, it is one of the most natural anti-depressants out there. Most of the positive statements about chocolate come from “test tube” research and not from research done on humans. Since the studies are funded by those interested in making money from increased sales of chocolate, the studies could be biased or compromised to some degree. (Steinberg) The next step would be to increase research on chocolate that shows the results and proof of nutrients going into the body on a cellular level.
The cellular level is where change takes place, not just on a slide or in a test tube in a lab. Scientists know that just because a food contains nutrients does not mean that the human body will absorb these nutrients in a positive way. The studies should also differentiate between the ingredients contained by different types and brands of chocolate. Depending on the quality and brand of chocolate, the percentage of cacao butter will vary and this is an important change. Many chocolate companies do not have the resources or are not willing to spend the money to use high amounts of cacao butter.
It is expensive and often substituted with cheap fat. In regards to this issue, Carl Keen has said, “look at the total fat intake that occurs in one day, and then start making decisions as to which foods with fat you are going to eat, based on what else the food brings with it. ” While chocolate has been praised for not raising LDL, the bad cholesterol, critics say that most of the research done to prove this does not provide enough information to undoubtedly say that the research hasn’t missed an important difference.
For example, a more recent, larger and non-industry-funded piece of research showed results of 80,082 nurses that filled out dietary surveys, from which researchers could figure out how much of this or that fatty acid was being consumed. The nurses were followed for more than 14 years for outcome measures, not laboratory values like LDL, but statistics like heart attacks and deaths. These things happened more often in the high stearic-acid-eating group. One of the most harmful products in the stearic acid category is beef tallow, which contains nearly as much stearic acid as cocoa butter. This creates a loophole.
On one hand, studies show that chocolate probably won’t raise your cholesterol. But the studies were considered weak and biased. On the other hand, a long-term population study reveals that cocoa butter’s main fatty component can lead to heart attacks. But this study doesn’t actually look at cocoa butter itself. These studies show conflicting results, which indicates the need for further research and outside funding. Bibliography Bruinsma K, Taren DL. Chocolate: Food or Drug? University of Arizona, 1999. Marcus DA, Scharff L, Turk D, Gourley LM. Double-blind provocative study of chocolate as a trigger of headache.
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