Will You Eat Too Much Sugar Over Easter ?
Wow, I can hardly believe that Easter is just around the corner already, where has the first part of 2021 gone? This year Easter Sunday falls on April 4th but the date varies each year.
Easter is a Christian holiday which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However many traditions associated with Easter date back to pre-Christian pagan times. The word Easter itself is thought to come from the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and spring Eostre. Easter is also associated with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Easter is a great time usually to come together with friends and family, and enjoy a break from work. Irrespective of denomination many people like to celebrate Easter by giving and receiving chocolate Easter Eggs and children enjoy Easter Egg Hunts. For the majority of us with a sweet tooth though, we will consume large quantities of chocolate, and as we all know too much of a good thing can be bad for our health. On average a medium sized Easter egg can contain about 23 teaspoons of sugar, almost four times the recommended daily intake of sugar!
The Facts about Too Much Sugar
I am sure that we are all aware that an excess of sugar in the diet can lead to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes, but perhaps the effects on the skin are not so widely known. The skin is the largest organ in the body and when we consume refined sugar in excess, the insulin levels in our bodies spike and this triggers an inflammatory response. This inflammation produces enzymes which cause a process called glycation where the sugar molecules react with the proteins and fats causing Advanced Glycation End products or AGE’s. These can actually break down the collagen and elastin structures, two essential components for healthy skin. This gradually reduces the plumpness and firmness of the skin, elasticity is compromised and rhytides or wrinkles appear. AGE’s also contribute to a dull uneven complexion and pigmented areas.
Sustained inflammation in the skin over a period of time, becomes chronic and this can also be a major factor in other common skin conditions such as Rosacea and Acne. The inflammation itself supresses the ability of the immune system to function correctly and fight off infection effectively. Hormone levels can also be affected by inflammation, with androgens (Male hormones) increasing leading to excessive production of sebum or oil and enlarged pores which can become clogged causing breakouts.
However it isn’t all bad news for all you chocolate lovers. Yes sugar has a detrimental effect, but chocolate itself can be good for us, if we chose our chocolate wisely. Raw Cacao, which is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans, is a healthy type of chocolate, as the enzymes in the chocolate are preserved. Cocoa powder does not contain these healthy enzymes as it has been roasted at high temperatures. Some chocolate manufacturers save money by replacing the cocoa butter with other cheaper and not so nice fats. Good quality chocolate should contain a minimum of 70% cocoa solids and only have about 6 or 7 ingredients. Milk chocolate tends to contain only around 30% so there is a huge difference. The benefit of eating chocolate are relative to the quality of the chocolate consumed.
There are many benefits to eating a good dark chocolate each day. Cacao itself is an anti-inflammatory and contains high levels of flavonoids. This can offer some protection against UV damage in the skin. Dark chocolate also has a high mineral content, including Zinc, Selenium and Potassium, and a high Iron content and so this contributes to good overall health. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. Older people can reap the benefit of reduced memory loss and increased cognitive function. Chocolate is a good mood enhancer as it contains Phenylethylamine (PEA). This is produced naturally in the brain when we are happy or fall in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins which make you feel good.
In summary then, this Easter try not to go berserk and end up in a sugar coma. Choose wisely when eating chocolate, by picking the best quality we can help our skin, hearts and minds.