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Detox from choc?

Today is Dechox day!!!! What's that - I hear you say!

Dechox is a nationwide challenge to give up chocolate for the month of February. Being a nutritional therapist and a chocolate lover, I am in a bit of a quandary, as the different parts of me clash over this delicious food.

The message of Dechox is to look after your health, make better choices, i.e. less fatty and sugary snacks, challenge yourself and raise money through the Dechox campaign. If that's not your thing right now, then read on to find out what I think about chocolate!

Chocolate is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, The cocoa beans go through a fair bit of processing before they end up in your favourite bar:drying, cleaning, blending, roasting, cracking and heating, and that's just to get bars of bitter chocolate. In order to make most of the confectionery you find in the shops, butter, milk, sugar, nuts and flavourings can all be added. So, you can see that chocolate is an example of a very natural product that goes through lots of handling and has many unhealthy things added to it.

Adding sugar and fat obviously makes chocolate an unhealthy choice, however the original product (cacao) does contain lots of plant sterols and flavonoids (plant compounds that are antioxidants and confer health benefits).

Now, I can't honestly tell you to go out and eat lots of chocolate due to its antioxidant levels, because if it's antioxidants you are looking for, then there are many better sources out there, like any fruits and vegetables, for example! However, if you are not planning to give up on chocolate, then my advice would be to at least go for the brands that have higher proportion of cocoa, with less sugar and fat.

And remember, chocolate (and any sugary treat) should be in addition to, not instead of, a healthy balanced diet.

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