We asked a doctor how healthy chocolate really is. The answer is sure to surprise you.

Well Naturally
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It’s the question that plagues every person in possession of a sweet tooth.

Is chocolate actually good for you?

In an age of information, internet obsession and social media madness we all have a wealth of information at the edge of our fingertips. And that’s not always a good thing.

Chocolate in particular is getting a bad rap of late, but it’s time we had our sweet little bud’s back.

Chocolate is the best accompaniment to the decadent part of the week, when you sit back and unwind with your favourite TV show or a good book. For mums, it’s often the one tasty morsel you get to savour by yourself once the nightly ritual of bathing, bed and books is done.

Speaking of hiding the chocolate away for yourself, have you tried tucking it away in a frozen vegetable bag to keep it safe from little hands? Works a treat!

"Is chocolate actually good for you?" Image: iStock.

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Nicole Dynan – Accredited Practising Dietitian and Media Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia –confirms there is no reason to eliminate chocolate from your diet.

"Most of us agree that chocolate is delicious, and the good news is – there’s no need to leave it out completely if you’re focused on eating healthily," she says. "While it’s true that chocolate doesn’t have a great deal of nutrition, and (some brands can be) heavy on the kilojoules and sugar, eating small amounts infrequently won’t undo your dedication to healthy eating.

"So don’t feel that you need to avoid eating chocolate if you enjoy it. It’s all about the context of your whole diet."

Ms Dynan said that dark chocolate is a great option for those of us who crave something sweet and creamy, but also want to be conscious of our health and the health of our families.

When I heard that chocolate was good for you. Image: Giphy.

"Dark chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree, one of the best sources of antioxidants available," she says. "It is also surprisingly nutritious, with 70-85% dark chocolate containing fibre, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and selenium.

"The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fats. Stearic acid, a saturated fat which makes up about 33% of cocoa butter, has a neutral effect on our blood cholesterol -  so that is a good thing.

"Some observational studies also suggest that eating cocoa and dark chocolate may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health in people who are healthy, contributing to reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

"Eating cocoa and dark chocolate may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health."  Image: iStock.

"Chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others."

"Some people report a ‘feel-good’ effect from eating chocolate and for good reason. Cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which may have a short-term, brain-stimulating effect."

So take heart, chocolate lovers, mums of chocolate lovers and anybody who can't get through the day without breaking off a slice of dark goodness, there is good news in sight.

What's also important to remember is that there are some chocolatey options - which cover a range of milk, dark and other fun flavours - out there that don't have any added sugar in sight. Instead, they make use of Stevia, which, according to Medical News Today, is a handy sweetener that has zero or minimal calories per serving.

Knowing that some chocolate contains only small amounts of natural sugar and has other benefits lets you enjoy the awesome taste without the sense of guilt.

Chocolate without a side of guilt? We'll say yes to that.

Why do you love chocolate?

The Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate collection is all indulgence and no guilt, thanks to the addition of stevia, a natural plant-based sweetener. With no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and no gluten or added sugar, it’s a feel-good treat made easy.

Available in the health food section at Woolworths, Coles and selected independent supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.

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