By Yuki YamazakiJSS,e-newsletter, yuki yamazaki
Sweet chocolate… like an aphrodisiac, makes you feel so happy when you put it in your mouth.  It has generated a lot of media coverage because it is believed that cocoa beans contain polyphenol, which is good for your body.  “Diet for beauty with chocolate” was a phenomenon promoted by advertisements.  More chocolate products with higher cocoa content began entering the market. I myself used to eat and drink chocolate every day, believing without a doubt that eating chocolate was good for beauty, health and dieting.
Then I studied holistic nutritional science and was stunned to find out about the negative effects of chocolate that was not reported by the media. I might confess that I’d rather not know those facts.  However I’ve realized that it is necessary to learn the merits and demerits of the food we intake daily.  As a result, consumers will be able to make wise and safe choices.
I’d like to share with you some merits and demerits of our beloved chocolate.
– Polyphenol (Flavonoid): Cocoa beans contain a large amount of flavonoids, a substance related to polyphenol that with their strong antioxidants, help improve blood flow, make blood platelets less sticky and thus prevent high blood pressure.
– Theobromine: A kind of an alkaloid, it is found in the cacao plant and a bitter substance in chocolate and cocoa.  It helps you to be calm and relaxed.
– In addition, cocoa beans are rich with other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and calcium and vitamins such as E and niacin.
There is always the flip side to a coin.  Some demerits of chocolate are:
– Cacao is highly addictive: Most chocolate is sweet chocolate, with addictive cocoa and lots of milk and sugar.  Especially refined sugar is so-called white narcotics and makes you crave more.
– Harmful sugar in chocolate:  Refined sugar contains no minerals.  While being metabolized, it depletes calcium and vitamin B, reduces immunity and causes ADHD
(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and mood swings.  Sugar in chocolate is a real trouble maker.  Cacao used to be a medicine for Natives in the Americas and was only consumed in medical emergencies and in religious ceremonies, not as a daily food.  (Of course, neither sugar nor milk was added.)
– Burden to liver and kidneys: Cocoa butter is highly toxic to the liver and irritates the kidneys and adrenal glands, and it’s highly possible it can cause insomnia, shivering and apathy. It takes longer to digest and therefore it can be a physical strain.
– The state of cacao farms: A BBC documentary reported that child labour is a serious issue at cacao farms in western Africa.  Child labour is not just a problem at farms but it’s deeply rooted in severe poverty, stemming from the unfair trade system.  FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organization International) and Fairtrade Foundation allocate their fair trade profits to eliminate child labour, improve living conditions and enhance the education system.  We, consumers, recognize the situation and support the fairtrade certificate system.
– The effects on pets: Pet owners should be aware that theobromine in chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats – because they metabolize the substance more slowly, it remains in their body. Pets can succumb to toxinosis. Indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and become overly excited, develop a slow heart rate, convulsion, seizure… these symptoms may lead to their death. If your dog mistakenly took a bite of chocolate, take him/her to a veterinarian immediately.
Do you find this information useful? Chocolate is a nonessential food.  Enjoy a piece of organic or fairtrade chocolate.  I am sure that a good quality cocoa can satisfy your palate, even in small amounts.
Carob grain and chips are good substitutes for cocoa. There is no food that’s good for everyone.  Even nutritious super food can be harmful to some people. If you would like to find out which foods are best for you, please contact me anytime.
Yuki Yamazaki
R.H.N – Registered Holistic Nutritionist /Kinesiology Practitioner
holistic nutritional science
BBC Documentary: Chocolate The Bitter Truth