Chocolate, with its high cocoa content, therefore has a positive effect on coronary and circulatory diseases, in preventing and treating high blood pressure, and, as we have outlined, in other clinical conditions as well; however, if something is effective, we must be aware that, in all likelihood, it will also have undesired effects.
Chocolate has a lot of calories: munching down a ten decagram bar of chocolate puts 500-550 calories in one’s system, which is why – sadly – if your calorie intake from other foods is also considerable, you might well gain weight. If you eat chocolate regularly and unsparingly, you should eat proportionally smaller quantities of other foods.
Most chocolate contains sugar, which contributes to tooth decay, although the antioxidant effect can partially counteract the build-up of acid detrimental to the tooth’s enamel. After eating chocolate, both children and adults should brush their teeth thoroughly!
There are those who abstain from dark-coloured “medicinal” chocolate, because it has caffeine and can cause anxiety, sleeplessness and an increased heart rate. However, the caffeine content of chocolate is substantially smaller than what one might drink in a single cup of coffee, perhaps several times a day. A strong cup of coffee may contain as much as 100 mg of caffeine, and, in the case of a standard espresso, we are usually drinking around 40 mg of caffeine. Dark chocolate contains more caffeine than milk chocolate, but a half-bar of plain chocolate has only 25-30 mg of caffeine.
With high cocoa content (60-70%) chocolate, one can not only effectively reduce the development of arteriosclerosis and the risk of heart attack and stroke, but it also protects the skin and acts as an excellent cough suppressant. The advantage of this medicine is that, unlike other pharmaceuticals, it can be purchased at any time in every grocery store, supermarket, and even petrol station – although it is true that there is no subsidy for it from the national health care system.
Budapest, 25 August 2006
Dr Lajos Matos – Dr Margit Lengyel
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Dr Margit Lengyel, MD, is a specialist in clinical pharmacology and the managing director of MedrepkeD Kft. Having worked previously in pharmaceutical research, she is now primarily engaged in controlling and monitoring pharmaceutical tests. She writes regularly on nutritional issues and is the co-author of a medical cookbook, “Szíves szakácskönyv” (“The Heart-friendly Cookbook”). She was one of the expert consultants for the seven-part science film, “Mint a Hold” (“Like the Moon”).
Dr Lajos Matos, MD, is a cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist. He is currently senior doctor at the Szent János Hospital. He regularly gives presentations and writes articles about nutritional issues and is the co-author of a medical cookbook, the “Szíves szakácskönyv” (“The Heart-friendly Cookbook”). For his scientific research, the Hungarian Nutrition Society has decorated him with the order of merit. The Council on Clinical Cardiology of the World Heart Federation first elected him vice-president, and later president. He remains a member of this one of the Federation’s Councils.