Chocolate cake for breakfast anyone?

Disclaimer

Chocolate cake in the morning is good for you! Am I kidding? No. How about that for some good news. My daughter often liked to eat marble cake for breakfast. I did not think this was a good idea. Hands up if you wouldn’t have either? Well, according to a study conducted by the Syracuse University in New York, it was.

They examined a group of 968 people aged 23-98 years who didn’t change any eating habits apart from eating more good quality chocolate. The scientists found out that the participants showed a significant increase in their cognitive ablilites (brain functions) while solving a variety of set tasks.

What causes this?

So what might be the reasons for this happy conclusion?

  • Chocolate has actually been recognized since ancient times as a treatment for health problems such as cardiovascular benefits (good for the heart)
  • Key ingredients of chocolate are flavanols and methyxanthines which “lighten up” some neurostransmitters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotransmitter in our brain.

The Scientists did highlight that chocolate was associated with the improvement in cognitive functions but further studies need to be done.

Is it a fluke?

And just before you say, ah come on it’s probably a fluke, they were backed up by another group of scientists in Israel led by Prof. Dr. Daniela Jacubowicz. In a nutshell you could say they found out that eating chocolate cake for breakfast in the morning helps you to lose weight! Yes you read correctly.

Eating a substantial breakfast with protein and carbohydrates in the morning reduces the level of ghrelin, a hormone that makes you want to eat. You feel satisfied and don’t feel cravings and the the need to eat so many unhealthy and high-calorie foods later in the day when your metabolism slows down. Our metabolism is functioning at it’s peak at in the morning when our day begins, so breakfast should really be the most important and substantial meal of the day. Just saying, all you out there who skip breakfast! In Germany they say you should eat the breakfast of a king, the lunch of a prince and the supper of a pauper. That seems to be true.

The scientists split a group of 196 overweight people into two groups. One group had a choice of desserts for breakfast. The dessert being a sweet food chosen from the following list: chocolate, cookies, cake, ice cream, chocolate mousse or donuts. This is for breakfast before 9 am. The first group initially lost weight but gained it again. The second group lost weight and kept on losing weight. But hold your horses – this doesn´t mean you can pig out in the morning, but that you should eat well but sensibly meaning good quality food. And that piece of marble cake for breakfast was fine! You should still add your 5-7 a day of course, but hey! – chocolate cake with fresh rasberries?

Still be careful!

Please take into account any dietery health requirements you might have and don´t just start eating chocolate cake if you are generally not supposed to.

 

Sweet rituals

Actually it didn´t stop at marble cake. Whenever there was something to celebrate, my daughter wished for a home baked chocolate cake. When she was little it needed to be decorated with smarties. It became a kind of ritual.

I also used to make brownies running up to Christmas for her to take to school. All her friends would ask when I would be starting to bake.

Mum made her a Devils chocolate cake once and was quite davastated when she didn´t like it. Apart from the name the problem turned out to be the butter. In the UK salted butter is often used in baking. In fact salted butter is more common that unsalted butter, whereas in Germany salted butter is considered a delicacy for special occasions and is more expensive than unsalted butter, which is common. Germans like to keep control of the salt they put in their baking. My mum had made frosting with salted butter. Uggh! was my daughter’s reaction – not the coveted response of a doting grandmother.

Why is chocolate good for you?

  • Eating dark chocolate (70-85% cocoa) may reduce heart disease, as the compounds in dark chocolate protect against the oxidation of LDL. Observational studies have concluded that people who eat dark chocolate regularly have lower rates of heart attacks, heart failure, and even death caused by heart disease. However, this does not mean we should start eating lots of sweet treats with chocolate on them. The benefits were reported when eating dark chocolate. Some people have the habit of eating a small piece of chocolate after lunch with some coffee, that maybe a good idea.
  • Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants. Chocolate contains several organic compounds polyphenols, flavenols and cathechins that are biologicially active and function as antioxidants.
  • The compounds in chocolate may also be good for your skin. Flavenols can protect agains sun damage. They increase blood flow to the skin and increase the skins hydration.
  • Dark chocolate containing a high amount of cocoa is very nutritious. It has a relative amount of soluble fibre and lots of minerals namely in a 100g bar of chocolate there are: 67% RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) iron, 58% RDI magnesium, 89% RDI copper, 98% RDI manganese as well as potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and some calcioum. But you should not consume that amount of chocolate each day.
  • I have already talked about the cognitive benetfits above.

Again I cannot stress enough that this does not mean you should go out and buy a whole load of your favourite chocolate bars. High quality chocolate with over 70% cocoa is what you are looking for. And Cocoa with cream and marshmallows is also not really what I mean. Treats like that maybe ok, if you don’t have diabetes or other dietary restrictions once in a blue moon, but not regularly.

Getting back

sumptuous chocolate cake

In more recent years my daughter has baked me a chocolate cake for my birthday. As I eat gluten-free, it needed to be flourless. Although these days the quality of gluten free flour is so good that you can often just substitute it. It’s always so joyous when your children give you back moments of joy you have given to them, Isn´t it?

Sources:

Crichton, G. E. C., Elias, M. F. E. & Alkerwi, A. A. (2016, 1. Mai). Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. www.sciencedirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666316300459

Jacubowicz, D. J., Froy, O. F., Wainstein, J. W. & Boaz, M. B. (2012, 10. März). Meal timing and composition influence ghrelin levels, appetite scores and weight loss maintenance in overweight and obese adults. www.sciencedirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039128X11003515

Shewe, T. S., Steffen, Y. S. & Sies, H. S. (2008, 15. August). How do dietary flavanols improve vascular function? A position paper. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18358827/

Candies, chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids. (o. D.). nutritiondata.self.com. Abgerufen am 7. Februar 2021, von https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2

And also chocolate is not so bad for you as some tried to make out in the film “Chocolat”. A film worth watching again.

And that isn’t the only film about chocolate that Johnny Depp played in.

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