Chocolates for Kids: Health Benefits & Side Effects
Chocolate is one of the most favourite food items amongst children across the world. Although many parents are reluctant to give chocolates to their children due to their harmful effects but chocolates have surprising benefits too.
Chocolate is made from cacao beans which are present inside a pod. Each pod approximately contains 40 beans. About 400 beans produces 453.5 grams of chocolate when mixed with sugar, butter/vegetable oil and milk. Fruits, nuts, coconut powder etc. are added to make different flavours of chocolates
Benefits of eating chocolates:
- Increases energy levels – All chocolates contain a certain amount of caffeine which gives a boost to the energy.
- Reduces stress – Chocolates contain a chemical compound called polyphenol which helps in reducing stress.
- Improves the brain function – The chemical compound flavanol present in chocolates increases the blood flow to the brain thereby improving its function.
- Source of several minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium etc. – Calcium and phosphorous help in building strong bones and teeth. Potassium helps in maintaining muscle contractions, fluid balance and nerve signals.
- Protects the heart – An antioxidant (a substance that delays or prevents cell damage) called flavanol present in chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease.
Harmful effects of eating chocolates:
- May lead to obesity – Too much consumption of chocolate can lead to obesity due to the fat content in it.
- Can cause tooth cavity and decay – High sugar content can lead to this problem if teeth are not brushed and flossed properly after eating chocolate.
- May cause hyperactivity in some children – In some children high sugar and cocoa has an adverse effect on their behaviour. Example: Children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
Fun facts of chocolate:
- Cacao bean powder is bitter in taste. Sugar is added to it to make chocolates. Cocoa generally refers to the powder of cacao beans.
- The melting point of chocolate is below the normal body temperature of human being. Hence it melts easily on the tongue.
- The average life of Cacao trees is more than 99 years, out of which usable cacao beans is just for 25 years.
- Cacao beans were used as a currency by the Mayans [people of Central America and Mexico during 1000 BCE (before the current era) and 1697 CE (current era)].
- White chocolate is technically not a chocolate since there is no cacao in it.
- The largest chocolate bar in the world weighed 5792.5 kg. It created a Guinness World Record on October 7, 2011 and was created by Thorntons PLC in Derbyshire, UK.
- The scientific name of cacao is ‘Theobroma cacao’ which means ‘Food of the God’ in Greek language.
- The first chocolate bar was made in 1847 by Joseph Fry and sons in Bristol, England.
- Ivory coast a country in West Africa is the world’s largest producer of cocoa beans. It produces about 2200000 tons of cacao beans per year.
- World’s largest chocolate museum is situated at Kilchberg, Switzerland. It has a chocolate fountain that is approximately 30 feet (9.1 metre) tall.
Chocolate will probably never lose its status as an indulgent treat, and we have to accept that not every chocolate that passes our kids’ lips is going to be a super healthy food. That makes it all the more important to model a healthy attitude around chocolate!
That means : Enjoy it wholly, in moderation, and without guilt. And remember the true focus of your family’s healthy eating plan: plenty of fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, whole grains, and quality protein.