Heavenly Chocolate…And You Can Safely Indulge Every Daytweet
Chocolate is a natural substance derived from plants, which immediately means it has health benefits including antioxidants. Most of us know enough these days to understand that antioxidants protect us from ageing, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalance and from damage that can lead to heart disease.
Chocolate has been a favorite of men, women and children since it was first brought to Spain during the early years of exploration. It has been found to contain many of the same benefits found in your darker vegetables such as spinach, Collard greens and beets or beetroot.
Chocolate literally melts in the mouth
This is because it melts at exactly blood temperature. So pop a square of chocolate in your mouth and it slowly dissolves into a delicious liquid without any effort on your part. Even thinking about the creamy taste of rich dark chocolate can make your mouth water.
Such delicious and decadent dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants particularly if you choose good quality, organic chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids and natural cocoa butter. It will have a true flavor with less sugar and fewer or no additives. Milk or white chocolate cannot make any health claims. In fact, washing down dark chocolate with a drink of milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate and therefore negate the potential health benefits.
Of course all chocolates are not created equal and when combined with other foods, can lose much of their health benefits. Be aware that Dutch processing (which is a chemical alkalizing process to smooth flavor) can destroy many nutrients. If you are looking for a good quality dark chocolate, Ghirardelli’s 60 percent cacao dark chocolate bars have a short ingredient list but a high cacao concentration.
These are the health benefits of such dark chocolate
- Keeping your heart and and cardiovascular system functioning well
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering LDL cholesterol by up to 10%
- Stimulating endorphin production to give you that feel good feeling
- Containing serotonin to act as an anti-depressant
- Containing theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants
- Containing phenylethylamine (a natural substance in chocolate) that acts in a similar way to amphetamine as an antidepressant and stimulant, helping to create feelings of euphoria often likened to being in love – no wonder that chocolate is so often a gift between lovers and would-be lovers
People worry about the fats in chocolate and these are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid. The first two are no cause for concern but the palmitic acid is a saturated fat which is why you should not eat too much chocolate every day. Moderation is the key because chocolate is still a high calorie food.
If you are baking with chocolate, opt for over 50% cocoa solids. If you are using an older, traditional recipe, remember that you need to adjust the sugar ratio because in the past, high quality chocolate was not available to everyone but only to professional chefs.
The best news of all is that you can safely treat yourself to a few squares of good dark chocolate every day. It tastes so good.