Monday
Oct012012

Love Chocolate?

 

The quick answer:  You women (and the occasional men) who read this blog are exceptional—you get nutrition and you care enough to make changes.  For all you do, you deserve a treat—like chocolate. 

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 The Joy of Eating

Though I’m both a descendent and a respecter of the Puritans who founded our country . . . we’re not puritanical when it comes to food.  It’s good to enjoy food, especially in the company of family and friends.  That’s our position but we’re talking about real food, not the packaged food-like substances made in factories.

Which brings us to the subject of chocolate.  In an interesting survey, Americans associated chocolate cake with guilty pleasure, while the French linked it with celebration.  No Puritans in France it seems, but on the subject of food we can learn from the French. 

Chocolate isn’t yet proven to be a health food—we should make that clear.  On any given day, an apple, orange, or banana is probably a better idea than a chocolate treat.  But life is to be enjoyed and I want to think there’s room for both—like melted chocolate drizzled over fruit.

There are both healthy and unhealthy ways to enjoy chocolate.  Basically, dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate, or white chocolate.  With dark chocolate (60-90% cocoa) you get more of the natural good stuff in chocolate and less additives like sugar. 

I just checked the shelf where the beautiful wife keeps her treats.  Sure enough, there was a bag of Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips.  Whether you spell it cacao, like the British, or cocoa, it’s her favorite treat.  I like it too, with almonds or walnuts.

Chocolate Benefits

  1. Magnesium:  Chocolate is rich in magnesium.  Americans are widely deficient of this mineral (see this post), so essential to bone health and many human enzymes.  The Nurses Health Study found that women with the highest level of serum magnesium had 77% less risk of fatal heart attacks than women with the lowest level.  Chocolate is good for your bones, as well as your heart.
  2. Antioxidants:  Critical to fighting the free radicals that cause premature aging, antioxidants are plentiful in chocolate, as well as broccoli, blueberries, red grapes, strawberries, and apples.  For more on antioxidants, go here.
  3. Vascular health:  A recent Harvard study of 2575 people found that cocoa consumption reduced blood pressure (by about 5 systolic points on average), improved blood vessel health, and lowered cholesterol, among other benefits.  Chocolate consumption also helped diabetes.

The Century Rule

You may be wondering, isn’t chocolate a highly processed food?  Actually, it is.  But we turn to the Century Rule, which says that processed foods should be used for at least a century before being considered safe.  Cocoa has been consumed for millennia and is linked to many health benefits.  So, like spices, also rich in antioxidants, it’s a traditional processed food with a beneficial history.  But remember chocolate is a concentrated source of calories so it’s best enjoyed with fruit and nuts.

Please comment:  Share your favorite ways to enjoy chocolate, especially those that are healthiest.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (10)

Your wife and I have something in common. I have the same treat in my kitchen.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi

I love it in a homemade trail mix with craisins, cashews, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and whatever else might be handy and yummy in there.
I also get excited when my girls choose chocolate cake for their birthday, I can make one delish from scratch chocolate cake!
And chocolate dipped strawberries of course.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy (vintagefern)

chocolate bits in my morning oatmeal!

i also like to blend cocoa powder with frozen banana for a "chocolate frozen yogurt" treat. no added sugar necessary!

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrooke

I prefer Green & Black's organic 85% cocoa content; it is my favorite dessert! I eat .35 ounce after lunch and dinner and feel so satisfied that I've even turned down dessert when I'm out because I'd rather have my chocolate when I get home. By the way, I savor every little nibble as the chocolate melts in my mouth and never chew!

I used to prefer milk chocolate and avoid dark chocolate but now milk chocolate is just too sweet.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Morris

Frozen banana "nuggets" dunked in dark chocolate, then rolled in chopped walnuts. Keep these frozen, and sample one each day --- so they don't go bad.

I've never had one go bad, but I keep checking!

Isn't it time we Americans get over the notion of a "guilty pleasure?" This just perpetuates bad food thinking.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizA

I love chocolate dipped fruit. I like that it tastes indulgent, but isn't too bad. As for the magnesium, I read that cocoa has a lot of phytates which bind to the magnesium and make it unavailable to the body. Bummer.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

I love your blog and especially today's about chocolate. Thank you. I also want you to know that I mentioned you in my blog today as a great place to get information about living the Word of Wisdom. Keep up the good work!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle

Hi, I just discovered your blog and it's amazing. I love what you are doing, thanks for sharing! My husband and I have just started to eat better, I started studying about food and health like your daughter says you did =) and we are trying to eat better, whole food, real food, organic food. We are transitioning right now, the new stuff we buy is healthy, I got rid of almost half my pantry items ha! And well, we're still eating some of the cans and stuff we had. But new stuff, all clean and healthy =)
Please feel free to visit my blog, you will find many recipes that are not "healthy" or "organic" (from before) but you will also find new recipes which are healthy, real and whole.
Here you will find a little about what I wrote about "Good eating" http://gabhousewife.blogspot.mx/p/good-eating.html and here's the general blog site http://gabhousewife.blogspot.mx

I used to hate dark chocolate but I was converted by Chocolove's "Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate" bar. Soo good!

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina

I also love chocolates but I'm starting to eat less now, as I'm trying to convert to a much healthy diet. :)

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterk2

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