Easter can be a time of indulgence and of temptation. Too much sugar, dairy or gluten (think hot cross buns!) and many of us may feel a little regretful by the end of the long weekend. Rather than forgo Chocolate and other treats altogether, here’s a little insight into how to incorporate your long weekend indulgences into Easter Healthy Eating.
The right type of Chocolate for you may have one or more of the following features:
Fairtrade – According to Fairtrade International many cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate.(1) The organisation points to the fact that widespread poverty, deforestation, gender inequality, child labour and forced labour are persistent problems in the cocoa sector. A quick label check will give you the peace of mind you are looking for.
Organic – Organic cocoa beans are produced using farming practices that work in harmony with the local ecosystem to ensure sustainability. This means that farmers can continually produce crops without depleting their soil of nutrients – so no more forest-clearing. Organic farming also emphasises renewable resources and conserving energy and water.(2) Pretty good reasons to get selective when it comes to your choice of beans.
Dark (70% or higher) – In a study, it was concluded that dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake compared with milk chocolate.(3) The theory is dark chocolate has a more intense cocoa flavour than milk chocolate so that it creates a stronger sensory signal which may lead to a stronger sensory satiety response. The satisfaction from a smaller quantity is great for portion control. Other benefits associated with dark chocolate include lower blood pressure and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes.(3)
Dairy free and/or Refined Sugar free – When you are avoiding dairy and minimising sugar, there are still plenty of options to choose from – you just need to know where to look – go on an Easter egg hunt before Easter! Check out this list of vegan chocolates, some of which are also refined sugar free.
Dark chocolate (70%–85% cacao) provides 36 mg of magnesium per 100 kcal(4) and contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods.(4) Antioxidant effects of cocoa may directly influence insulin resistance thus reducing risk for diabetes.(4) It can actually be good for gut health too (more reason to keep it dairy and refined sugar free to maximise these benefits) as cocoa polyphenols also modulate intestinal microbiota, thus leading to the growth of bacteria, suggesting that cocoa polyphenols may behave as prebiotics.(5)
As chocolate is quite energy-dense (read high in calories!) overindulgence of course increases risk of weight gain. Overall though, research suggests that the benefits of moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption likely outweigh the risks(4) with some studies concluding that chocolate may reduce appetite, preventing weight gain.(5) which helps with your Easter Healthy Eating.
Celebrate your way!
– Easter foods aren’t limited to chocolate and hot cross buns.
– Enjoy a seafood feast or a traditional roast dinner (perfect for a rainy Easter weekend)
– Or just be like the Easter Bunny and opt for carrots, in the form of a healthy carrot cake of course! Check out our Recipe Page for this recipe that’s so good it rivals chocolate!