Halloween marks the start of the two best months of the year filled with holidays, family gatherings, "friend gifts" and lots of delicious food. It also marks the beginning of that time of year when we call chocolate nutritious and tell other half-truths to justify our indulgence.
What exactly is chocolate?
Let's start by explaining what chocolate is made of: cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are seeds of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao), a delicate plant native to Central America, South America and Africa. They have a strong and bitter taste and are therefore fermented (with natural yeast and bacteria) after harvesting to develop flavor, after which they are dried, cleaned and roasted. The hull is then removed and the remaining cocoa beans are ground to a powder containing cocoa components and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter, which becomes liquid during the pulverization process, also known as cocoa liqueur, is then poured into molds and cooled. This is what you will encounter as a chocolate bar made of 1
So this is what we have discovered so far. Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are actually cocoa tree seeds. They are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted and ground. Chocolate is therefore a plant – and hey, eating more plants is the cornerstone of a healthy diet, right?
But it is nutritious, right?
Cocoa is generally regarded as one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world. Research suggests that it may help lower blood pressure, protect cells against free radicals, lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, keep inflammation low, and even stimulate brain functions.
It is also rich in iron, magnesium and fiber, making it a real superfood. Does this not answer the question & # 39; is it nutritious & # 39 ;?
That is without a doubt.
So where's the catch?
You see, the problem occurs when that nutritious 100% cocoa is mixed with other ingredients and processed into something completely different. Sugar, milk, flour, baking powder, corn syrup, cream and various additives, fillers, colors and flavorings; they are the ones who make the chocolate less nutritious and stripped of most of its amazing qualities.
This is where your Halloween pleasure justification falls – all the sweets and chocolates you consume on your trick or treat journey have little to zero nutrients out there, well, sugar.
But chocolate makes us happy
We all know that chocolates are not the best food choices and a large Hershey bar is definitely not considered an essential macro or micronutrient food, but it is hard to ignore its delicious taste, and how having a day when we completely let go of the boundaries of clean food is just good for our mental health
We feel happier , less anxious and more tolerant. Although we do not feed our bodies with nutrients, we do something almost as important – raising our serotonin (lucky hormone) and dopamine levels through the roof!
This has been proven to be accurate, because chocolate contains a compound known as tryptophan, which is linked to the production of serotonin. It has also been shown that having more serotonin and dopamine in our system reduces stress and anxiety and brings a general feeling of calmness and happiness.
Halloween indulgence is not so bad, then?
No, it is not. Living a healthy and happy life comes down to one simple but very difficult goal to achieve and maintain: balance.
Balance is the key to everything in life, so why should food and nutrients be the exception? When you pay attention to what you eat and give your body the right nutrients, you enjoy some chocolate or other delicious desserts (hello Thanksgiving cake and Christmas pudding) while you spend time with friends and family. Stress is the main culprit of all human problems, so let go a little, live a little; That's why this time of the year is so great!
What if I overdo it?
First of all: don't panic.
Second, you have to determine what it means to exaggerate. Are you afraid that you went too far because you had a second piece of chocolate cake or because you ate 75 snickers bars? In the first case, no, you have not gone too far, two slices of cake are fine. In the second case you may have an example of excessive concession, but calm down in both cases.
There is nothing worse than stressing about it and feeling guilty; it's no use crying over spilled milk. The only thing you can do is accept and move forward. Pay more attention to what you eat from there, make sure you get enough nutrients and avoid processed foods as much as possible to lower the levels of inflammation and stimulate your immune system. Simple as that! Life is not linear, and we all go through phases, but as we have mentioned above, balance is the key and finding and maintaining balance is the ultimate goal. , joyful, happy, anti-anxious feelings that we all so desperately need to thrive and compensate for our serious and responsible qualities. So yes, chocolate makes us happier and it certainly can & # 39; nutritious & # 39; are for our mental health.