Search This Blog

Friday, February 8, 2013

It Doesn't Get Better Than (Healthy) Chocolate

A reason for living
If you believe that the four major food groups are milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffle, we really understand each other. But believe it or not, chocolate can be good for you.

Dark chocolate containing 72% cocoa solids or more, is best enjoyed when it hasn’t been treated with alkali... a standard process called Dutching, which destroys most of cocoa's beneficial polyphenols and anti-oxidants. Then there’s milk chocolate, which should be avoided (if you got the guts.) It’s high in calories, saturated fat and sugar. Dark chocolate contains more cacao and less sugar.

A 2006 John Hopkins study showed that eating a little bit every day is good for your health. Here are some of the health benefits associated with eating chocolate.

  • Cacao helps the body process nitric oxide, a compound for healthy blood flow and blood pressure.
  •  It contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay.
  • The polyphenol content of cocoa solids exceeds that of all common foods, including tea, berries, or grapes. Polyphenols such as Catechins and procyanidins, appear to support artery function and promote healthy blood fat and clotting profiles.
  • The stearic acid from cocoa butter contained in many healthy chocolate bars, has no known adverse effects on blood cholesterol profiles. Cocoa butter also contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat that raises good cholesterol.
  • Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine (a mild mood elevator) and flavanoids that keep blood vessels elastic.
  • Studies show that eating a little bit of chocolate once a week can reduce your risk of stroke by 25 to 45 percent.
  • Cocoa is natural a source of minerals like copper, it’s an antioxidant as potent as green tea, and protects against heart disease and helps relieve stress.
  • Chocolate increases serotonin production and releases endorphins. It contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that is released in the brain when we fall in love. Hmm…
Chocolate is a $60 billion global industry today. The average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate per year. (58 million pounds are sold around Valentine's Day alone.) And the Swiss, Austrians, Germans, Irish, British, Norwegians, Danes, Belgians, Swedes and Australians all eat more than we do.

Mesoamericans first cultivated cacao beans more than three thousand years ago. The Mayans made it into a sacred drink, offered it in tribute to kings, and placed it in the tombs of the nobility so they could savor it in the afterlife.

By the time Columbus arrived, cacao beans were traded as a commodity. Today the world produces over three million tons of cacao beans a year. But the cocoa crop requires a long rainy season and deep rich soil within twenty degrees of the equator. It requires high humidity, constant pruning, and protection against pests so do your best to buy organic. Vital Choice offers a delicious, dark organic chocolate with 80% cocoa yet you would never know it as it is far from bitter.

There are psychological benefits to chocolate too. Chocolate increases serotonin production and releases endorphins. It contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that is released in the brain when we fall in love. Eating chocolate gives many people a natural "high," feeling (comes as a surprise, doesn’t it?)

Chocolate is often the final touch of elegance at the end of a good meal - or a special treat to be savored. Ever been to a hotel and enjoyed their “turn down service?” If you’re finding it difficult to fold back the covers on your bed, perhaps you shouldn’t be traveling without your nanny but really, most people request this “service” for the little chocolates they place on your pillow.

Premium chocolate is only slightly less nuanced than fine wine. It's recognized by its aroma, strength, and balance of taste sensations and interesting textures. It is a reminder to slow down, look, smell, taste, and take your time. But some of the more “pedestrian” chocolates can be every bit as good. Life would NOT be the same without my M&M’s, for example.
Chocolate is something we all associate with our childhood and with happiness. It provides a feeling of well-being. It has clear health benefits. It doesn't just taste good. It helps you live longer (trust me, it’s the ultimate de-stressor.) No wonder women find it only slightly less vital than oxygen.

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

If you use the article you are required to activate any links found in the article and the by-line. Please do not use this article in any publication that is not opt-in (spam).


Post a Comment