Chocolate Consumption in the UAE

Introduction

It was once a rarity, then, it became a delicacy – now, it is considered to be an unhealthy temptation. The attitude to chocolate has undergone critical changes, but since it ventured into the Gulf, its fan club would always remain stable.

The modern mass media’s appeal for healthy foods in one’s diet has provoked live debates around the chocolate’s qualities. Initially, chocolate was believed to be a children’s candy, but it did not take the delicious condiment long to gain popularity among adults as well. Chocolate cravings are now equally popular among adults and children. In addition, people commonly treat the product as a stress relief due to its comforting quality.

One of the factors that make chocolate a suspicious food item is its delicacy. It is typical of people to associate sweet foods such as candies, crisps, and soft drinks with health hazards. However, chocolate might be the exception to the rule that all ‘sweets’ are destructive. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), chocolate use is not as widespread as it is in the Western world. Nevertheless, the opinions of the citizens regarding its healthy qualities are not as peremptory.

Therefore, the paper at hand is aimed at analyzing the healthy qualities of chocolate. It is assumed that the experience of the Arabians shows that this product can be fairly considered a healthy delicacy in case it is consumed in the moderate quantities.

Ideal Energy Replenishment

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate can easily be incorporated into a day-to-day healthy menu. The modern healthy lifestyle implies a combination of some physical activity and a well-balanced diet. In the meantime, exercises and vigorous workouts can lead to a fluctuation of energy that has a negative influence on one’s well-being. Consequently, experts advise replenishing the energy once in a while by drinking either water or soft drinks (Hannum & Erdman, 2010). Thus, for instance, the soft drink Gatorade is often advertised in terms of energy replenishment.

In the meantime, it should be noted that small amounts of chocolate can be a fine alternative to replenish energy in the midst of the working process. Research indicates that chocolate provides better results than most of the soft drinks that are available in vending machines. In a study conducted at Indiana University, “a group of elite cyclists drank chocolate milk between workouts while another group of elite cyclists drank sports drinks….the group that drank chocolate milk scored better on fatigue and endurance tests” (Steinberg, Bearden, & Keen, 2003, p. 218).

Those who prefer to drink only water during workouts can also use small amounts of chocolate to replenish their energy. For example, chocolate is often packaged in bars that can be rationed throughout an exercise session. The fact that chocolate contains substantial amounts of both nutrients and carbohydrates makes this food ideal energy replenishment during workouts.

Furthermore, water cannot offer the energy spike that most individuals need during workouts. The two important nutrients after a workout are protein and carbohydrates. Chocolate can be consumed in various forms including combining it with protein-rich products such as milk and nuts. This versatility gives chocolate a competitive advantage over most of the products found on store shelves. Overall, chocolate is the best companion for individuals who engage in vigorous exercises such as running and cycling.

Harmless Fats

The obsession with aesthetics of body image have now ventured into the Gulf and chocolate is here to help. Previously, body image issues were a reserve of Westerners, but the rest of the world is systematically catching this fever. The fact that swimming pools and beaches offer UAE citizens a chance to demonstrate their bodies also makes them conscious about retaining too much fat. Consequently, all delicacies that contain traces of fat in them are consequently shunned by individuals who are after perfect bodies.

Nevertheless, there are instances of misinformation when it comes to different types of fats that are often consumed through various condiments. According to health experts, not all types of fat need to be avoided in the quest for aesthetically correct bodies (Yao & Chen, 2014). It is now clear that some categories of fat have no effect on the body; others are rather healthful than harmful. The two kinds of fat that are found in chocolate are categorized as oleic acid and stearic acids. Stearic acids fall under the class of saturated fats, but its effects on the levels of cholesterol in the body have been recognized as negligible. Therefore, when its intake into the body is well-managed, chocolate can help individuals retain fats in all the desired places without any associated risks to the health.

The other type of fat that is found in chocolate (oleic acids) can assist in lowering the cholesterol levels. Scientific studies indicate that “oleic acid improves cell membrane structure and signaling which not only helps people lower their cholesterol levels, but also lower their blood pressures” (Strandberg, 2008, p. 250). These research findings have been supported by other studies in Harvard University’s School of Public Health and the Antioxidants Research Laboratory. The two institutions reiterate the fact that chocolate can increase blood flow thereby eliminating the buildup of cholesterol. In case a person is eager to have a beautiful body, it is essential to remember that from this perspective, cholesterol is the enemy, while chocolate is a friend.

Perfect Stress Relief

The UAE is known for offering a relaxing environment where people are expected to be happy and relaxed. In these terms, chocolate might be highly assistive. Apart from the healthy contents comprising carbohydrates, flavonoids, and monosaturated fats, chocolate’s ultimate achievement is its ability to make people happier. Some scientists claim that consuming chocolate produces the same feeling as “being in love” (Afoakwa, 2008). Consequently, it is for that reason that people often have some chocolate cravings whenever they are sad or depressed.

Chocolate’s ability to bring happiness to people has something to do with its effects on the brain functions. Whenever we consume chocolate, our brains release endorphins, which are ‘feel good’ elements that easily elevate our levels of happiness. In addition, physical stress can, likewise, be alleviated through chocolate consumption because its effects on the brain make it a perfect natural painkiller (Serafini, Bugianesi, De Santis, & Crozier, 2013).

Conclusion

The analysis of chocolate’s qualities has shown that the fears, connected with its unhealthy effect on one’s body and well-being, are unjustified. Despite the wide-spread prejudices, chocolate represents no critical threat for a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, the product’s beneficial content makes it a rich source of vitamins, oleic acids, and monosaturated fats. The latter, above all else, is a perfect stress relief which makes chocolate one of the most popular products consumed in stress situations.

Hence, the positive qualities of chocolate in terms of health have been scientifically proved by numerous studies; which is why UAE citizens enjoy this treat without experiencing any fears. In the meantime, it is essential to remember that chocolate consumption can be healthy only if it is moderate. The excessive consumption of chocolate, as well as of any other candy, is likely to have a negative impact on both the health and the body image – meanwhile, it does not mean the product should be completely excluded from the menu.

References

Afoakwa, E. O. (2008). Cocoa and chocolate consumption-are there aphrodisiac and other beneficial implications on human health?. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 21(3), 107-116.

Hannum, S. M., & Erdman, J. W. (2010). Emerging health benefits from cocoa and chocolate. Journal of Medicinal Food, 3(2), 73-75.

Serafini, M., Bugianesi, R., De Santis, S., & Crozier, A. (2013). Plasma antioxidants from chocolate. Nature, 424(6952), 1013-1014.

Steinberg, F. M., Bearden, M. M., & Keen, C. L. (2003). Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(2), 215-223.

Strandberg, T. E. (2008). Chocolate, well-being and health among elderly men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62(2), 247-253.

Yao, L. H., & Chen, S. S. (2014). Flavonoids in food and their health benefits. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 59(3), 113-122.