The New Daily has quizzed health experts about the benefits of chocolate, serving recommendations, and the effect it has on our teeth in a desperate attempt to justify an Easter Sunday chocolate binge.
And there is some good news, according to accredited practising dietitian Gabrielle Maston, a spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
“Eating one or two eggs isn’t going to do any harm,” she confirmed.
“Overindulging on chocolate on Easter Sunday won’t cause any significant health impact unless you have diabetes, but chronic overeating for weeks on end causes problems. Increased weight gain and diabetes are some of the risks.
“One serving of chocolate is considered to be 25 grams, which is equivalent to a medium-sized hollow chocolate egg or one row of a chocolate block,” she said.
There is no recommended daily intake for chocolate because it is considered a discretionary food, falling outside the five food groups necessary for a healthy diet.
Ms Maston said specialised chocolate or soft-filled eggs, such as caramel or creme eggs are higher in sugar and worse for teeth than plain chocolate.
Professor Merlin Thomas, a diabetes researcher at Monash University, noted that caramel chocolate, creme-style eggs and white chocolate are all calorie rich.
He said there are 150 calories in one Cadbury Creme Egg which would require a 39-minute walk to burn off.
“What is worse is that they are eaten on their own,” he said.
“Mix them with fibre. Give the kids an apple too. Coat a strawberry or a banana with chocolate instead of just eating them.”
Nuts (in chocolate) can help, too, to slow the sugar, he said.
Ms Maston’s advice is to choose a chocolate you enjoy so you can savour it in a small quantity, rather than eating something that doesn’t satisfy your craving and leads to eating more as a result.
“Dark chocolate that contains cocoa content of 70 per cent or more actually offers some health benefits as the flavonoid pigments act as antioxidants,” she said.
“Milk chocolate is only 10 to 20 per cent cocoa and is mainly cocoa butter – fats – and sugar. White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa.
“It’s best to tell the kids not to overdo it. Eating too much chocolate in a day might give them an upset stomach the next day.
“Easter is a good chance to teach kids about eating in moderation.”
How to protect your teeth
Australian Dental Association president Dr Hugo Sachs said there were benefits to letting kids binge on chocolate on Easter.
“It’s better to let the kids go wild feasting on chocolate on Easter Sunday than to let them continue snacking for days or even weeks afterwards,” he said.
“It’s the repeated snacking behaviour that’s the main concern for teeth decay.
“A dozen snacks means a dozen acid hits which can cause demineralisation of your teeth.”