Add a little cocoa in the cup of milk Your child or on a piece of fruit can encourage your child to eat healthy foods that they would not otherwise want to eat. Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet for children if it is given in moderation. Chocolate, especially black, has become an important issue recently as studies show some health benefits. "Healthy chocolate sounds like a dream come true, but has not yet reached the place of healthy food," says Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD of the Mayo Clinic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that dark chocolate can have beneficial effects on heart health by lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol and keeping blood vessels healthy. Chocolate contains flavonoids that have proven to be useful in improving cardiovascular health. These benefits affect children in the same way that they affect adults, although most studies are done in adults.
Studies with children
The ancient Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa for medicinal purposes, including constipation and diarrhea. Recent studies involving children have shown that chocolate can be beneficial in preventing these two conditions. A study in the journal "Pediatrics" found that children who consume cocoa husk, which is rich in fibers, are more likely to relieve constipation than those who take placebos. The amount of fiber in the husk may be the cause of the result, not the amount of cocoa. Another study in "The Journal of Pediatrics" showed that flavonoids in cocoa limit the release of the fluids that cause diarrhea. The latter can lead to dehydration, a serious health problem for young children.
A dark chocolate bar contains almost the same amount of caffeine as 12 ounces of cola drink, or around 30 mg. Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and can cause drowsiness, headaches, nerves, stomach pains and other symptoms. In the United States there is no recommendation of the amount of healthy caffeine for children; however, limiting the amount of caffeine that is given would be smart.
The health benefits of chocolate are found in cocoa, which is bitter, and most children would not eat it. To make it tastier, you add fat and sugar, which increase calories and decrease healthy benefits. Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States. Dark chocolate can be part of a healthy diet for your child if you consume it in small portions as a treat on some special occasion.Choose dark chocolate that has at least 65 percent cocoa for a healthier option.