Cadbury vs Lindt
How many people do you know who could say no to chocolate – not many I bet. It is a well known fact that chocolate is very addictive, and woman are more prone to this addiction than men. The thing is with chocolate addiction as opposed to alcohol, or even recreational drugs, is people do not seem to mind being addicted. They may even find it funny, or even relish in it. “Death by chocolate” is a title that accompanies many a chocolate cake for instance. So what if chocolate was really killing you, would you still find it funny? I would hazard a guess that chocoholics would not care, they would no doubt accept their fate – as living without chocolate would be a life not worth living.
What is it that makes chocolate so addictive?
It’s basically a perfect storm of compounds and enzymes.
magic combination of sugar and fat
First of all, there is the magic combination of sugar and fat. If you get this right, then any food will be irresistible. Manufacturers know this, and pay attention to the exact characteristics. The British traditional chocolate, made by Cadburys of course relies heavily on the sugar/fat ratio, and only a little on actual cocoa. Cocoa coincidentally is the expensive part of chocolate, which explains why Cadbury chocolate is much cheaper thank Lindt. These days, there is a shift towards so called “healthy chocolate”. Whether it is any healthier is arguable, but the stronger chocolate contains more cocoa, that’s for sure. With the better brands containing as fewer added ingredients – unlike Cadburys – who bulk their bars out with all manner of preservatives, and flavourings. There is an argument of whether Cadbury chocolate can be called chocolate as aficionados argue there is not enough cocoa.
addictive chemical compounds
Secondly, there are a multitude of addictive compounds (approximately 300) that make up the cocoa bean; As the exact composition depends on when the bean is picked, and how the cocoa bean is processed, this list can only be a guide to the major elements.
Tryptophan - is the chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy – hence the name of the designer drug that also works by increasing serotonin levels.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) - High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenyl- ethylamine works by stimulating the brain’s pleasure centres. This chemical is responsible for chocolate being thought of as an aphrodisiac.
Theobromine is another stimulant compound found in chocolate; in fact, it comes from the same family of compounds as caffeine, and its structure is very similar. It also acts in a similar manner to caffeine, blocking adenosine receptors in the brain and reducing sleepiness. There is 600mg per 100g of this potentially deadly compound in dark chocolate. It is dangerous if eaten in large amounts, but you would have to eat 1000mg per 1kg of your body weight in order for it to do you any harm. This, even for the most ardent choco-holic would be an enormous feat. The story is a little different for dogs, as they need only 300mg per kilo gram of weight for toxicity to occur.
Chocolate as a drug
Cocoa was not named ‘the food of the gods’ for nothing by the Aztecs. It is believed that in their search for substances that could give them higher states of well being, Cocoa (or Theobroma Cacoa) fitted the bill. After all, the seed from any fruit is not usually deemed edible, but it appears the Aztecs were determined to extract the hidden secrets of this bean. Cocoa was given high regard and was drunk in large amounts at religious festivals. The drink they would have consumed would bare no resemblance to our beloved hot chocolate, this was very strong and not sweet at all. It was used as a stimulant. The stimulant qualities coming mainly from Caffeine, and Theobromine.
A discussion here gives anecdotal evidence of how chocolate can cause hallucinogenic effects. I have personal experience.
Why are Woman more addicted than Men?
The consensus of opinion is that a womans’ hormonal level drops in the days leading to their menstrual periods. This maybe too simplistic, as the effect on a woman is quite complex. For instance, some woman may have a severe craving for two to three days leading up to the period, and not want to eat chocolate at all during any other time. Whereas, other woman need a chocolate fix every single day. This extreme addiction can be attributed to more of an addiction to the thought of eating chocolate, a process that no doubt started during a hormonal imbalance. The thought of “as long as I can eat chocolate I will feel better” becomes self fulfilling. It may be a case that blood sugar levels are low, and chocolate is a quick fix. Then there is the guilty pleasure effect, as denying yourself something because it is wrong, or bad for you only makes you want it more.
Q. Are there any health benefits from eating chocolate?
A. Not really.
Q. Not even dark chocolate?
There are obviously some vitamins and minerals contained within the various ingredients. It is plain to see though, that the multitude of claims purporting the benefits to your health are no doubt sponsored by manufacturers in this multi million pound business. In fact, any health benefits are out weighed by the debilitating side effects.
For the sake of balance, let’s look at Flavanols.
Recently, we have seen a lot of press purporting the great advantages of this wonderful antioxidant. A recent study into how pigs can benefit from flavanols, found that there was an increase in certain healthy microbiota activity. This leads researchers to believe Cocoa is good for your gut health.
Phytates; Cocoa powder is high in Phytates at around 1700mg per 100 grams. Phytates are an anti-nutrient, which means they prevent beneficial nutrients from being absorbed by your digestive processes. This is a concern for the people who eat raw Cacoa. Not only is raw Cacoa high in anti-nutrients, but there is also a higher level of live disease spreading bacteria and mould due to animal feces.
In the raw state, the Cacoa seed is full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy anti-oxidants. All the purported health benefits are derived from this. Unfortunately, when the seeds are processed (roasted), thus creating Cocoa powder and Cocoa butter, much of the nutrition is lost. Fortunately, so are most of the phytates and nasty bugs.
Feel Good Factor
The way I see it, the best and most pronounced health benefit from Chocolate is the mere fact that it makes you feel good. As long as you do not over indulge, then this little extravagance can give you multiple health benefits simply because of that. Feeling good helps your immune system, which in turn helps fights off infection, helps healing and so forth.
Lets take the ingredients of two typical chocolate bars;
Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate.
(as there are many variations, this is just a typical bar)
Sugar; Refined sugar is known to be extremely stressful for your immune system, and directly feeds parasites and other pathogens.
Milk; There are various substances in milk that can be harmful to humans. Only 5% of the population can actually digest milk fully.
Lactose; A constituent of milk which is difficult to digest, and known to cause bloating.
Cocoa butter; Fat which is processed from the cocoa bean. As this fat is cold pressed, it appears to be beneficial to some degree. There is a good spread of the different fats. Including a small percentage being Omega 3, and some lauric acid thrown in for good measure.
Cocoa Mass; This is a substance derived from the Cacoa bean where the fat has been removed. Essentially it’s Cocoa powder. Cadbury reckon that there is 26% pure cocoa powder in Dairy Milk.
Vegetable fat; This is no doubt a hydrogenated fat of some description – very difficult to digest, and toxic in large quantities.
Emulsifiers (E442, E476); Ammonium Pophatides, Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR) are by-products of refined vegetable fats. These are added in order to help the chocolate melt in your mouth. These chemicals are toxic if eaten in large quantities.
Soy lecithin; Another emulsifier which is made by processing the soya bean until all you are left with is a chemical gunk.
Natural and artificial flavours; These terms hide a multi tude of sins. One of them is MSG – the immune system grinder. Don’t be conned into thinking that natural flavouring means you are eating a natural product. It may start off as something quite naturally occurring, but by the time it ends up in your chocolate, it’s anything but. Artificial flavours are worse, as the base can be crude oil, or coal tar, which when refined produces pleasing tastes and smells – mmm.
Lindt Excellence Chocolate 70%.
Lindt is known for it’s dark chocolate, so does this mean it’s healthier? As you can see the list of ingredients is much shorter, so technically Lindt is healthier. This doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice, just that it is less harmful than poorer quality chocolate.
Cocoa mass; Or cocoa liquor which is a liquid form, processed from cocoa nibs. This is the purest form of chocolate, and is very bitter.
Sugar; See Above. It appears as though Lindt chocolate does not use as much sugar as Cadbury.
Cocoa Butter; See above.
Cocoa; See above.
Eat chocolate by all means – but only as a special treat. Do not be fooled by all the hype surrounding this popular food, as there’s big money involved. So, therefore many a doctor, or scientist would be tempted to take the shilling and voice the incredible health benefits. Given all this info though, there is still a fascination for me with chocolate, especially as my wife is addicted. I am experimenting with making my own chocolate using organic ingredients.