Recently a client was describing her frustration with trying to eliminate chocolate. Totally. When I delved into her reasons for doing this she said “like smoking, chocolate is bad for you, isn’t it?” … “once you start, you can’t stop!” As an ex-smoker, she had drawn comparisons between the addictiveness of smoking and chocolate and thought that just as she had quit smoking, she could similarly quit chocolate. Is this your perception of chocolate? Is chocolate as harmful as smoking, making it necessary to totally quit chocolate?
Due to the addictiveness of nicotine in cigarettes, once you start you can’t stop. The first cigarette is rarely satisfying, making a smoker go back for more to get the expected high. A smoker has to keep on having more cigarettes to increase the pleasure. The pleasure experienced from chocolate, however, is self-limiting. Ever wondered why taste testing is done just once? Ever wondered why a thirsty person says with absolute satisfaction “Ahhhhh!” with their first sip of water, tea or beer? You don’t hear it after the second, fifth or tenth one! When hungry or thirsty, the first mouthful is as good as it gets. The experience, the exhilaration, the ‘high’ diminishes as you have more. With food, pleasure diminishes with quantity.
All cigarettes, regardless of brand, and even when consumed in moderation, are harmful to your health. Chocolate, especially good quality chocolate, can have health benefits.
All cigarettes, even in moderation, are harmful to your health. Good quality chocolate, in moderation, can be beneficial for your health.
Cigarettes contain thousands of harmful chemicals including more than 60 carcinogens. In addition, smoking or even passive smoking, may lead to reduced lung function and respiratory disorders. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease (through hardening of the arteries, lowering HDL cholesterol levels, increased risk of blood clots), stroke (through raised blood pressure) and diseases such as cancer. Smoking can also lead to tooth staining, gum disease and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
Chocolate, on the other hand, does not directly affect lung function. Research has shown that when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced eating plan, good quality chocolate does not increase blood cholesterol levels and may increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It is thought that flavonoids may increase nitric oxide which helps the blood vessels to relax and to lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that a small amount of dark chocolate reduces the risk of stroke by 8% and the risk of heart disease by 5%. Chocolate does not cause the level of harm to dental health as smoking does. Furthermore, due to chocolate’s ability to melt in the mouth, sugar doesn’t cling to teeth and therefore it has a lower risk of dental caries compared with other treats such as lollies and sweetened beverages.
Smoking offers absolutely no nutritional benefit. If anything it depletes the body of many essential vitamins (beta-carotene, folate, vitamins C and E), minerals (calcium, zinc), phytonutrients (lycopene) and essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, leaving smokers more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies and disease. On the other hand, chocolate contains minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc) and as many as 600 phytonutrients which have additional health benefits.
Research suggests cigarette smoking increases the risk of symptoms of depression. Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. So, unlike smoking, chocolate can improve your mood.
TASTE & SMELL
Smoking dullens your sense of taste and smell. Good quality chocolate develops your taste and appreciation for the complex flavours of foods.
Eating good quality chocolate, in moderation, has nutritional and health benefits. Smoking, on the other hand, has no benefits, making chocolate and smoking more dissimilar than similar. Here’s to wishing you a healthy relationship with chocolate this Easter!